There is a part of what is most deeply important to us in Churches of Christ that goes against the grain of our typical analytical, left-brain culture. I am talking about two things that are very experiential…Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These have tended to be two of our biggest non-negotiables in our churches and as such we have developed a rich theology of these two practices over the years that is worth sharing. What is more, our autonomous governance has also given us room to explore these areas more freely than some groups might be allowed to do…following the convictions and theology of local church leadership to seek out practices more in line with the early church.
In the early church baptism and the Supper were often paired together. When a new convert was baptized into Christ they often took communion immediately after. Here at Westside, where I worship, one of the ways we have been able to do something similar is by having baptisms at the beginning of the worship service rather than at the end. If someone has been studied with and is ready to be baptized we encourage them to be baptized at the beginning of service. It is a powerful experience as people are expecting to start in song and out walks someone into the baptistry to be baptized! There is great rejoicing! The singing seems especially good those days!
This is “hands on theology.” This is where theology gets tangible.
In this issue of Wineskins we are going to be exploring Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Let’s hear what people are doing out there to enrich this experience. Let’s also hear solid theology and interpretation on the relevant passages. Let’s discuss where we are a church body on these issues and what things can and will look like moving forward.
I am looking forward to sharing this discussion with you as we gather around the cyber-table and communion over these two issues. I pray this issue will be a blessing to you.