Last Sunday, our eldest child, Zac, was baptized. It was a great occasion for us all, especially for him, of course, and especially for me as I got to perform the baptism.
The baptism happened in the sea. By the scheduled time of 6.30pm, a sunny day had turned cloudy with a chilly strong wind, and the gentle, almost smooth, swell had become quite lively. We all got cold, two of us more than others. But the sea was really alive, and I think this added to the significance of the event.
In the Old Testament, the sea is usually an object of fear and a symbol of chaos. Genesis 1 describes a wind from God hovering over the waters that covered the earth, and God calling land and life into being. Biblically speaking, the sea is where we came from, but whether it’s creation or exodus or baptism, God delivers us from the waters.
But to me, the chaos of the sea symbolizes life. Swimming off this beach can be dangerous in high swell, but I have loved frolicking in the breakers elsewhere, and when the wind is up and the grey sea seethes and broods and the waves crash relentlessly on the shore, I feel really alive, even standing on land.
Zac and I walked into the breakers and we scarcely needed to do any more; by the time I baptized him, we were pretty soaked. But down he went into the living waters and out he came again to a new life – a life immersed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
It was a proud moment for this Dad, and it felt like a rite of passage for me as well. The young lad will shortly be going to university, 350 miles away in the frozen north. These children were never mine to possess. They haven’t even been on loan to Mrs. Mabbsonsea and me. They are themselves. But we are privileged and blessed to have them in our lives and love them, and that will never change, no matter how old they grow, where they go or what they do. Zac is on the threshold of a new life, but as we loosen our hold, we know that God holds him, and us, in God’s heart and hands always.
Something seems to have got into my eyes, so let me re-direct you to a video of the great event, made by John Brewster, one of our Boys Brigade leaders.