Rev. Thorton had the look of a disappointed business man as he stood by the church van watching members fill the small parking area. People laughed and talked loudly as if it were a Sunday outing.
"Children running everywhere, chasing one another like it's a game." He mumbled to himself, becoming sterner by the moment "Don't they know how solemn a function this is?"
Their new and too young pastor sat on a table near the beach and seemed not to notice the commotion, but added to it himself as he told jokes to the two men seated beside him.
"I knew this pastor would not be right," Rev. Thorton complained to himself, "this generation has no discipline." A smile grew upon his face as he thought of how things would work with himself as head of the congregation.
"Brother Thorton, so glad you were able to join us." The Pastor broke into his thoughts with a laugh. "A beautiful day like this, we should have brought lunch and made a day of it."
The older man missed a step as the idea staggered him. "A picnic..? It is already a travesty of true Christian values." The Reverend stood straight with his head held high, hands clasped firmly before him, taking his rightful place at the front.
"Whoa, that's cold." The Pastor laughed as they stepped in the water. He laid his hands on the shoulders of the men who stood with him, scanned the group on the beach with a smile, and began to speak in a calm voice.
"When they spied out the Holy Land and saw its goodness, they still complained of the trial before them, and wandered lost in the dessert, nothing more than runaway slave of Egypt."
"Slaves indeed," Thorton grumbled under his breath. "They were the chosen of God, wrongfully abused."
"Though John is remembered for the baptism, Moses was first given the rules for cleansing the people for the righteousness of God's work, but the children were still not clean. They had the ritual, the sacrifices, even the Power of God standing behind them, but something was missing." Here the young pastor paused, looking over the people, "Desire."
Thorton stumbled as though slapped. "It is God's will that we serve, man's desires are unimportant. Any true Christian knows that."
"A desire to serve God's glory. Of the twelve sent to spy out the land only Caleb believed in the power of God to grant them the land. He stood forward, not thinking of himself or the trials to come but God's power to bless. He was able to enter in." He gripped the men's shoulders firmly, "Here are two men willing to stand humble, not knowing the trials yet to come."
The elder stood silent. The words sank in and he saw the reasoning within the message.
"John baptized with water to prepare for greater things. Washing off the dirt of the world, as God would the Sin from man’s soul. John knew his actions would not save. . . 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.' "
With the spoken scripture Thorton began to questioned his own actions– did he seek to serve Him in His glory.
"John indeed baptized with water unto repentance, but Christ came with greater, for His baptism was of the Spirit, to prepare the soul for eternal blessing. This same Jesus, our Lord and savior, who proclaimed, 'He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.' "
A tear began to roll down the elder's face as the Spirit softening his soul.
"We stand here in an open display of these men's faith, humbled in their repentance, to stand forward and seek the will of God. As with John, I baptize them, washing the worlds dust away, yet one who is greater than I has cleansed their heart and soul." He took one then the other, knelt down and lowered them as he spoke. "In the blessed name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I cleanse thee. Rise in a new life with Christ."
With his eye locked upon those of the young Pastor, tears flowed freely as Elder Thorton mouthed the words, "Forgive me, for I have sinned." With slow and humbled motion, he stepped into the lake's cool waters.
Matthew 3:11, Mark 16:16, - NKJ version from Ellis Maxima Bible Library Ver 6.0, Copyright- 1988-2001 by Ellis enterprises, Inc
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