By Mike Lueken, Senior Pastor
In our faith tradition (which some of you may not realize is Baptist!), we observe the sacraments of the Lord’s supper and baptism. A sacrament is just what the word implies—it is a sacred practice where the divine meets the human. Heaven intersects with earth. Sacraments are certainly signs of what God has done for us in His life, death and resurrection. We remember His grace through the sacraments. But sacraments are more than signs. In the mystery of the sacred practice, God shows up.
For example, on the first full weekend of each month, we celebrate the sacrament of communion together. The Table shapes us as a people who have been rescued by God through the life and sacrifice of Jesus. It is a vital aspect of our individual life in Jesus and of our communal life together in Him.
One of the most important gatherings of the entire year is our annual River Baptism and Barbecue, which will be on July 14. A baptism is similar to a graduation or birthday party or anniversary celebration. It is an occasion where the family gathers to remember and celebrate. Our annual baptism is an event where we remember why we exist as a Church. It is a core celebration of what God has done in the lives of those who are being baptized.
At the risk of being too assertive, the baptism service is too important to miss. If Oak Hills is your Church, I strongly urge you to join us at the river on July 14. We will have a barbecue, fellowship, a time of worship and a time of baptism.
I’ve always enjoyed the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. Philip shared the good news with him in a way where baptism made sense as a first step in this new life as a follower of Christ. In fact, the newly converted Ethiopian initiated his baptism by asking Philip, “What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” Somehow this man understood the spiritual significance of baptism and saw its connection with his decision to become a follower of Jesus.
Baptism is a crucially important event in the life of a Christ-follower. It is an expression of faith. It is an act of obedience to God. It is a public demonstration of our willingness to die to self and follow in the Way of Jesus. It is an encounter with the Spirit. It is a burial of the old way, and a resurrection into the new Way. Baptism is a sacred event where heaven touches earth and God makes himself known. In the New Testament, Christians were putting their lives on the line when they came to faith in Jesus. Baptism was how they were initiated into the Way of Christ and the life of the Church. Baptism is a big deal for both the individual and the Church.
If you have never been baptized, let this be the year! It doesn’t matter how much or little you know. It doesn’t matter if you have every detail of your faith and life worked out. None of us has that. You have the opportunity to declare to all who attend that you are a new creation in Jesus Christ. That’s an act of faith and it is a really good thing. You have the chance to show your colors. You have the chance to draw a line in the sand and identify with Jesus and with His Church. That’s a really good thing. A mandatory baptism class will happen on Sunday, June 26, and July 10 during the 11:00. To attend one of these classes sign up online here or stop by the Formation booth in the lobby after a Sunday service.
Our annual River Baptism is on July 14 at Negro Bar State Park in Folsom (Note that there is a $10 parking day use fee). The barbecue begins at 6 PM, along with live music by Waiting For Sunday. Worship and Baptism begin afterward. Please go to the following link to register. The event is free, but you can submit a donation at registration to assist with food costs. You can also stop by the Formation booth in the lobby after a Sunday service for more information. See you there!
[NOTE: If you’re interested in seeing a video of the 2015 River Baptism, please hit the link.]