PART III CHAPTER 9 CEREMONIES
...a seal of the righteousness of the faith...
It was a beautiful morning for a baptism. The sun was shining down upon the river Jordan, producing shimmering waves of light. Peter and the others were already there praying when Barabbas and his family arrived. As they walked through the sand toward the water, they heard the baying of horses behind them. Turning around they saw the strange looking black and white chariot pull up to one of the hitching posts along the beach road. Manaheem and Claressa dismounted and began walking toward the water as well.
When everyone was there, Peter asked "Well, is everyone ready?"
"Ready as we'll every be." chimed in Manaheem.
Peter looked at Barabbas. "Have you decided what your new name will be?"
"Well, no, not really. I thought of a few possibilities but none of them seemed to fit."
"Well," offered John, the name 'Barabbas' means son of shame or confusion. How about something similar but with a positive implication?"
Peter thought for a moment. "Ah, yes, what about Barnabas--son of consolation or comfort. I’ve noticed that you do have a very calming, comforting way about you."
“I think it's perfect" agreed John.
"Barnabas--yes, I like it." agreed Barabbas.
"Then," noted Peter, "Barnabas it is."
"Well, then, shall we begin?" urged John, and they all moved closer to the water.
Despite the shimmering sunlight, the water was still a bit cold. But no one seemed to mind the coldness. Barabbas was the first to enter the water. Peter asked, "Have you trusted in Jesus and his death on the cross for your eternal salvation?"
Barabbas was a little taken aback. "You know that I have" he answered.
“I know," said Peter, "But I have to ask these questions prior to baptizing you. So to continue, do you give yourself to follow Him all the days of your life?"
Again the answer came “I do."
"Then, upon the confession of your faith, I now baptize you, Barabbas and re-name you Barnabas. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
It was a truly refreshing feeling. He felt like a completely new and different person. Peter held out his hands to the rest and asked "Anybody else want to change your name?"
"O' ken I change my name too Daddy?" asked Caleb.
"Now what on earth would you want to change your name for? Caleb's a good name. And anyway, we have enough trouble keeping you kids straight without changin' yer names. No, you just stick t' th names we gave y'."
The rest of the family were baptized. Then it was the turn of Manaheem and Claressa. The same basic questions were asked and answered in the affirmative and the couple was baptized as well. Then, when they had come out of the water, Peter, standing next to Manaheem and Claressa, announced: "We have yet another ceremony to perform. This young couple was married and then divorced and they now want to be re-married. So, in the sight of God and these witnesses, I ask, do you Manaheem take Claressa to be your wife to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, to cleave to her, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?"
He answered:”I certainly do."
"And do you Claressa take Manaheem to be your husband, to have and to hold from this day forward n sickness and in health, to cleave to him, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live?"
“I surely do," she answered.
"Then, by the power invested in me as an apostle of Jesus and leader of his Church, I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride." Though wet, their lips met.
It's really great, isn't it?" asked the newly named Barnabas.
"What's really great?" asked Manaheem.
"O' yes, of course," replied Manaheem, "Even though it doesn't really change anything--I mean we had already committed to being His followers. But it sort-of sealed the deal."
"Exactly" chimed in Peter. "That's what Baptism is meant to be. It's not meant to save you. You're saved when you trust in Jesus. But baptism seals your commitment to Him and your relationship with Him."
"Just like our marriage," added Manaheem. We were already committed to each other, but the marriage sealed it. Now we can stand unashamed before a critical world."
The newly named Barnabas smiled. "And in my case, I’m an entirely new man, with even a new name."
Deborah sighed. "Well, I hope I remember to call you by your new name. You've been Barabbas as long as I knew you."
He smiled. "Well, I won't fault you if you forget now and then. But do try to remember when we're out in the public."
"I’ll try." She sighed again. Well, Barnabas, let's get out of theses wet clothes, shall we?"
"Yes," he answered, "let's go home and change. Then, I want to pay a visit to the family of the man whom my former self killed. Perhaps I can explain to his wife that I’m a different man now and beg her forgiveness."
She smiled. "That's a good idea, Barabb--I mean Barnabas. I’ll go along."
"Yes, perhaps between the two of us, we can bring some measure of comfort to the poor lady and her children."
Peter smiled broadly. “I see that you are already living up to your new name. May God go with you, Barnabas, friend."
"Pray that she will receive us peacefully."
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