We went to a baptism celebration yesterday. The vast majority of attenders at our church are in their 20s, which makes for a very dynamic group of people eager to know more about God and follow him. It also makes for some goofy displays.
The baptism was held at a local park which has a large lake. It was a great setting, and about a dozen 20somethings were being baptized, with a hundred more of us standing on the beach to watch. As each person was baptized, their friends gathered around them in the water to pray and rejoice. It was excellent…until it got goofy.
When one young man came up out of the water, someone in the group around him started chanting his name (“Jamie! Jamie!”), and the crowd in the water picked up on it. You know what it reminded me of? It seemed EXACTLY like a frat party, where Jamie would be trying to down as much beer as he could at one go.
This display became contagious, and was repeated after every other person being baptized. (“Lacey! Lacey!”)
I couldn’t decide whether I was feeling like:
- an old fogey who didn’t understand today’s youth
- a tolerant dad watching his kids do their best
- a disappointed prophet watching an immature display by people who don’t know any better.
Actually, it reminded me of how Moses might have felt when he came down from the mountain and saw the children of Israel dancing around the golden calf. Were they really all that much to blame? As far as I can tell, here’s what happened: Moses went up on the mountain and received the 10 commandments. He came down, wrote them in a book and read them to the people. They agreed to obey, and Moses threw blood on them. (Glad we haven’t kept THAT ritual around.) Then Moses went back up the mountain to talk to God again.
What I didn’t see is him hanging around to give the people guidance on how to follow the commandments, or even explanation of what they mean. So with a list of commands but no leadership or guidance, should we really have been surprised at the result?
So, back to the beach. Am I an old fogey? Am I a benevolent dad? Am I a disgruntled prophet? Yeah, maybe a little of each.