New worshiping community in Central Florida is always on the move
In this reflection by Katy Steinberg, pastor of the new worshiping community Missing Peace, we meet a young woman ready to go deeper in her relationship with Christ.
Over coffee earlier in the year, one of our regular attendees told me she had learned as late as high school that she had never been baptized.
Her family regularly attended a Presbyterian church at that time, but as a child they had not been active in any congregation. It just hadn’t come up until a Mormon friend asked about her baptism. On the verge of adulthood, she now felt that it was a decision she should think through carefully and that she would not participate in this ancient ritual until she felt confident it was right for her and her faith.
She floated in and out of various congregations through her college years and afterward, often sitting in the back of the church, never fully committed, and certainly not ready to take the big step into the water. Over time, attending church at all became less of a priority.
Then came the day of our coffee and conversation last year.
“Have you been baptized?” I asked.
“Well, I thought I had for a while,” she said, “but no, I now know I haven’t. However, I’ve been thinking about it for over 20 years.”
“Wow! What’s kept you from moving forward?” I asked.
She said, “It’s something I take very seriously, and I just didn’t find the right church, pastor and my own faith coming together at the same time. But I think I’m ready.”
After several conversations about the meaning of baptism in the Reformed tradition, the logistics of the worship service, and educating our new worshiping community on these pieces, too, it was time.
Along with the rest of our community and the two young children who were also to be baptized, we headed down to the ocean shore. Nerves about rough water and cool temperatures melted away as we approached the shoreline.
“Do you desire to be baptized?”
“Do you, as gathered people, drawn together by the desire to seek and know truth, promise to guide and nurture her, with love and prayer, encouraging her to know and follow the way, the truth and the life, and to be a faithful member of her community living out who she is called to be?”
After praying thanksgiving over the ocean, fully clothed and eyes wide open, we entered the cool waters of the Atlantic.
“Are you ready?” I asked. With tears streaming down her face, she nodded yes. With that, we leaned back into the waves, imitating the death and rising of our Lord. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
I have no words to adequately describe the next few moments. But slowly we emerged from the water, knowing the moment was meant to be fleeting. We had the less-than-traditional laying on of towels and hugs. The community then scoured the beach for small mementos of the occasion and presented them to each of the baptized with a few words. And with a few more words of prayer and benediction, it was over. People lingered. It was as if each of us wanted to hold on to the experience, wanted to continue to be in the presence of a God so obviously present that day, wanted to be together.
Most days at Missing Peace do not even come close to that day. But it reminded me what is possible. Remembering that day reminds me that God is powerfully at work in this beautiful and broken world and constantly beckoning to us to join in that work.
Katy Steinberg, special to Presbyterian News Service
Today’s Focus: ‘Missing Peace’
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Mission Co-workers
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Eternal and loving God, in the midst of a world of relentless change, grant us a deep and abiding sense of your sovereign power and abiding presence in our lives. May we walk the way you have set before us in confidence, in hope, and in faithfulness to our calling in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.