A summer heat wave is upon us. I hope the VBS workers have had time to recover from that amazing week. We have a busy July ahead — with the Luau last Friday and a picnic next Sunday (don’t forget to wear those picnic clothes to church!). And then we will end July with a brand-new event for us — A Baptism Celebration. It will be a night of worship, a little teaching, lots of calories, and many baptisms. We’ve never done anything like this before (we are applying our Daring Faith series from last fall) and so we are going to see if it works or not. It will, I predict.

This morning, let me challenge you. If you have not been baptized yet, keep reading. Healthy families enjoy one another and have a sense of family pride. You are a Welch (for example) and that’s great. Members are not ashamed to be recognized as a part of the family. But think about it, have you ever publicly identified yourself with the family of God? How is that done? Through baptism.

Baptism is not some optional ritual, to be delayed or postponed. It shouts to the world your inclusion in God’s family. It publicly announces, “I am not ashamed to be a part of God’s family.” Jesus commanded this beautiful act for all in his family.

I’ve done baptisms in many venues – in the actual Jordan River (north and south) and in a swimming pool and in a Jacuzzi and in many different church settings. But do you know where it is most special to me? Right here at Peninsula. At home. Among friends and family. And do you know why? Because the cheers and joy which surround each baptism are genuine as family gathers to celebrate family.

It is interesting to think about the fact that the Great Commission of Jesus gives the same prominence to baptism as it does to the great tasks of evangelism and edification. They sure seem equal in that famous text. Why? Because baptism symbolizes one of the purposes of your life:  incorporation into the fellowship of God’s eternal family.

Baptism declares your faith, shares Christ’s burial and resurrection, symbolizes your death to your old life, and announces your new life in Christ. It does all those things, while celebrating your inclusion in the family of God. Your baptism is a physical picture of a spiritual truth. It represents what happened the moment God brought you into his family.

Baptism doesn’t make you a member of God’s family; only faith in Christ does that. Baptism shows you are part of God’s family. Like a wedding ring, it is a visible reminder of an inward commitment. It is an act of initiation, not something you put off until you are spiritually mature. The only biblical condition is that you believe.

So do you? Believe that is. If so, then have you? Been baptized that is. We will have a huge Baptism Celebration — complete with brownies and worship and teaching. I hope you are coming. And I hope you are thinking if this is your next step in your life of Daring Faith. See you near the water in a couple of weeks.