Baptisms at the Beach

beach baptism 2011
On the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I found myself at the beach. The baptisms after worship had been planned weeks before, long before I realized the significance of the date. I love it when God does things like that. You open your eyes and it’s like the world goes from black and white to color. You see how God has been moving in beautiful and profound ways all along.

I’m a Florida girl, raised on sand and sunshine. I’ve the appropriate respect for water but have never feared it. Water is a playmate and a refuge- at least the water I know best- lakes, rivers and of course my beloved Gulf Coast.

I’ve done plenty of beach baptisms at Pass-a-Grille and Northshore in St. Petersburg. I didn’t realize how different a baptism service in the Atlantic would be. There be waves, Captain! Waves large enough to surf on and people warning me about rip tides. It’s hard enough baptizing someone by immersion at my height, let alone trying to time it between waves so neither of us drown.

chelsea's baptism

Romans 6:4-5 (NRSV)
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in
newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

While baptism is a one time event, the journey of faith is choosing new life with Christ again and again and again. The struggle of the situation reminded me of how hard this is, to continue to live out being buried with Christ and raised to new life.

  • Waves and waves of distractions
  • The pull of the old life we are leaving behind
  • The greedy, self-serving, seagull-like cries of those who want us to follow them instead of Jesus (Mine! Mine! Mine!)
  • The heat of those who question our decisions and our motives
  • The salty sting of realizing how much there is to learn and how far we have to go before we look anything like Jesus.

I admit I left with a few bruises that day, but it was worth it; just as following Jesus is always worth it. The concerns of the day were overwhelmed by the grace of the day. Yes it’s hard to follow Jesus. Yes, there are sacrifices and struggles in claiming new life; but there’s also great joy. All who gathered there that day were full of knowing smiles. The waves came and drenched us, but we popped right back up full of laughter. We felt the sands of time in our toes and the sweet breeze of the Spirit on our faces. We were God’s little ones again, not running to just play in the water, but running to Jesus. Running so that we might be born again.

Run to Jesus my friends. Keep running to Jesus. – Lisa <><

boys running on beach

Click here for a powerful story of baptism and identity by Janet Wolf.

devotion and photos © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to post or publish this work in any form.

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