A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege to document a Baptism at my sister (Shannon) and brother-in-law's (Zach) home. Zach is the Pastor at The Mill Church in Stratford and Edgar WI and they recently moved into a beautiful home on a gorgeous plot of land that includes a pond, perfect for baptisms.
I went into the shoot with the mind-set of simply being a fly on the wall, and thinking about how I could push myself creatively to tell the story of members of their church family deciding to become baptized before each other.
I left feeling more connected to God than I have in years.
My viewpoints on God, church, religion, the Bible....they have all changed over the past 30 years. But there is something that has never changed: my Spiritual Experience. What I mean by that is, regardless of what has stopped making sense to me over the years in terms of Scripture, regardless of how cliché I find certain Christian songs, or regardless of how little I attend a church now as an adult, all of that doesn't matter when I am experiencing a familiar spiritual connection with God. That has happened to me in meditation, in worship, in nature, when having thoughtful and insightful conversations with others, and most recently, at this Baptism.
Maybe it was the fact that the weather was perfect. Maybe it was the setting (seriously, their property is gorgeous and serene). Maybe it was the acoustic guitar, being strummed while Pastor Zach spoke to his congregation, and the adults and children sitting along the banks of the pond. I don't know. All I know is that I was profoundly reminded of and could place myself in the stories of Jesus preaching at the Sea of Galilee. And for me, it was another Spiritual Experience, similar to those I have experienced over the past 30 years.
From what I understand there are two purposes of baptism: first, an individual public profession of personal faith in Jesus Christ and surrender to Him (which, in and of itself should not be taken for granted since many people in other countries are highly persecuted for these public confessions), and secondly, an initiation rite into the fellowship of the local church of believers.
While I do not feel in a position to be baptized myself, it was incredibly moving to see others at this point in their life. I felt so much joy for them that my eyes welled up with tears.