Fresh beginnings can take many forms. “Sign on the dotted line and then the apartment is yours.”
“Fill out this W-4 and you will be a part of the company.”
“Place the ring on his finger and repeat after me…”
“I now baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…”
If you have not grown up witnessing baptisms, seeing one take place for the first time can seem confusing and a little odd. Why is there a tub full of water where we worship? Wouldn’t a small basin accomplish the same purpose? What is actually taking place on a spiritual level when someone is baptized? Does it matter who does the baptizing? What about baptizing babies? And above all, why would God require baptism of all things as an initiation into his kingdom?
When Peter told the thunderstruck crowd, “Repent and be baptized,” the action did not seem nearly as strange as it can today. Baptisms and washings were long a part of Jewish religious tradition. Sometimes they were done for reasons having to do with health, and other times they were symbolic cleansings only. But at all times they were reminders that we lead lives that need to be cleaned up.