When I was a little boy growing up in the church, I never really understood why we had a bathtub in the front of our church. Every-so-often we would fill the tub up with lukewarm or cold water and dunk people in it.
This was my understanding of baptism for most of my early Christian life. It was important, it meant something to the people who participated, but it was a mystery.
Flash forward a few degrees, one that supposes I have mastered all things church, and I still don’t understand exactly what is happening in baptism.
In Acts 2, Peter tells the crowds gathered that they must “repent and be baptized.” This wasn’t a guilt trip, this was Peter (a fellow sinner) sharing that he too knows the difficulty of being human. Baptism is a way to receive grace, to receive the Holy Spirit, even if we don’t fully understand it.
We are all invited to receive grace because Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. Because of God’s love for us, we are redeemed. And because we are redeemed, we live full lives of love and compassion. We share generously. We walk humbly. We take time to hear the cry of the needy, to hear the story of the elderly, to hear the rambling of the young. We witness God’s work all around us and we say, Hallelujah indeed, Christ is risen!
So that bath in church, it is important. It is a sign that points towards the work God is doing in us, often before we even are aware of it.