I grew up in a church that was known in the community for great music and high liturgy. We had full blown Christmas and Easter pageants every year – with adults in the leading roles. How excited I was when I was finally old enough to serve as shepherd in the Christmas play or take my place in our liturgical dance group called “The Rhythmic Choir.” We didn’t sing, but we were led by a classical ballerina who had been trained in liturgical dance – and our presentations were always a highlight of the high holy days of the church. It’s still hard to believe I actually did that – but I understand there is photographic evidence out there that proves it.
This Sunday is Easter Sunday – the highest holy day of the Christian year. It is the Sunday where we (figuratively) throw off the shroud of death and rise to new life in Christ. We are happy to have dancers from Dayton Contemporary Dance Company joining us again to help us celebrate the resurrection through the beautiful and classical symbolism of dance – much better than my adolescent (if well meaning) stumbling. And, of course, we’ll also explore the meaning of the resurrection in many other ways – through music, scripture, proclamation, prayer and, perhaps most meaningfully, through baptism.
I think one of the things I love most about baptism is how sensual it is. In other words, it involves all the senses. In the early church, penitents (candidates for baptism) were baptized in the nude on Holy Saturday or Easter Sunday. They entered into their new life in Christ even as they came into the world the first time – through water and in their birthday suits! Of course, that practice only lasted for awhile. But the physicality of baptism remains very much intact.
I have often described baptism as an “outward sign of an inward reality.” Baptism simply seals what has already taken place in the heart. It is a physical sign of a spiritual truth – “As I die with Christ, so also am I raised to new life in the resurrection.” To be able to be a part of this beautiful celebration is one of the most humbling and joyful parts of my calling as a pastor.
We live in a world filled with darkness, death and despair. I look forward to joining you in worship as we lift up Christ’s Easter victory over the powers of this world. Light, life and hope are ours in Jesus! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!