From right to left – Joyce, Robin, and Dana after the tub baptism. This originally appeared on whillschurch.org on July 13th, 2011.
“Grant, be sure to connect with Robin as soon as you can. She’s now in hospice care.”
This was one of the first texts I received after getting back from Brazil.
Robin started coming to Western Hills about a year and half ago with Dana Kelly. She made a decision for Christ but for the last 6 months, her body was just breaking down. With the host of physical problems she was battling, it just wasn’t feasible to show up on Sunday mornings let alone be baptized.
I called. Her voice was clear. “Grant, I’ve called hospice in but I have a request. I still want to be baptized. How can we do this? Do you think we can do it in my home somehow?”
“Absolutely. We will figure it out.”
She wanted Dana Kelly to be a part of it. Dana was the one that took care of her physically as well as spiritually over the years. And her good friend Joyce. So today (Wednesday, July 13) at 10:00, we were the Church at Robin’s house. “We” included her hospice nurse Jason, the hospice chaplain Annie, Gary & Nancy Manford, Joyce, Dana, Robin, and myself. We gathered in the kitchen.
“Robin, you’ve got some options this morning. We can dunk you in the tub or pour water over your head in the sink, sprinkle water over you or even use the garden hose in the yard.”
I could see she was wrestling with the options.
“We know that this is a symbol, this is a statement of an already existent condition for you – that Christ has consumed you and is changing you. God knows your physical condition and he’s pleased with your heart. I’m pretty sure He’s going to be okay any way you decide do this.”
“I want to be dunked. In the tub.”
I grabbed Gary’s Bible and shared some scripture with Robin while Dana filled the tub. Meanwhile we read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 together.
Dana popped back in shortly. “We’re ready.”
All 7 of us filed into the bathroom, Dana kneeled down to the tub with Robin.
I gave my 2 minute sermon on baptism. Baptismo was originally used in the garment industry. A garment was baptized in a dye and it took on the properties of that dye. I’m not wearing a purple shirt, I’m wearing a white shirt baptized in purple dye. But of course, it is a purple shirt. It’s no longer a white shirt. It’s a new, different shirt because it’s been consumed by something else. The perfect picture of what our life in Christ should be and why baptism is such a powerful, meaningful symbol. We’ve been consumed by Christ, overpowered by Christ. It is no longer I that live but Christ through me.
Dana then had the honors.
“Robin, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Is He your Savior.”
“Is it your desire to follow Him symbolized by this act of baptism?”
“Then it’s my honor to baptize you, my friend, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
And down Robin went in the water. And back up. And we all cheered.
A quick prayer of thanksgiving. 5 of us left the room for the kitchen and in a few minutes Robin emerged, wet head, and smiling ear to ear.
“What a happy day. What a happy day.”
We spent some time around the kitchen table. Sharing, talking, and encouraging. We took a bunch of pictures. Lots of kleenex was passed around.
A tub will do just fine.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4