We currently have three gatherings on Sundays 10am, 11:45am (where the language is Kayah, spoken by Karen refugees from Myanmar) and 2pm (known as Church With No Walls).
Although in many ways we are a diverse group of people, those in theHobart Baptist church family have many things in common, and one of them is the importance we place on baptism as part of our journey of faith in Jesus.
Literally the word “baptism” means to immerse in water. So baptism is a way of saying that we immerse ourselves in all that Jesus is about. It is an opportunity to publically declare this reality in identifying with Jesus and his followers.
Baptism is also a powerful symbol of death and new life. Going under the water symbolises dying to your old life, and coming up out of the water symbolises coming alive into new life in Jesus Christ. In this way you are immersing yourself into the death and burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Water baptism was an important symbol even in biblical times and not only for the Jews. It was practised in nearly every culture and every religion across the Middle East. They used it to symbolise that one was dying to the past and fully identifying with a new way of living for the future. Because of its familiarity across many cultures, it was a perfect way for people to demonstrate to their friends, family and co-workers their changed life. It would cause them to ask what they were dying to, what their new future might look like, and why on earth they were making this drastic change.
It is just as important to us today for the very same reasons. It is a public declaration of faith and an opportunity to explain to others why we have chosen to follow Jesus.
“While baptism is important it is only one step in following Jesus . . .
But there is more, for while baptism is important it is only one step in following Jesus. Jesus is about changing people’s lives and this is not something that begins once we believe, and not something that stops when we are baptised. In fact, even before baptism, from the moment we are born, Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, had already begun drawing us towards himself. Then after baptism, Jesus continues the work of transforming our lives. The Holy Spirit is at work helping us to become more gracious, forgiving, patient, generous and so on. This process never stops, it continues all through our lives.
If you are not yet a follower of Jesus may I encourage and inspire you to seriously consider Jesus, who he is, and what he calls all people to. If you are already a follower of Jesus I trust you too will be encouraged and inspired in your life-long process journey of following and becoming more the person he desires you to be.
Stephen L Baxter