Seems I'm able to find a fitting Hutterite Diaries excerpt for almost every occasion. For those that I can't, it's a gentle reminder that perhaps I should write another book.
On Palm Sunday, upon confession of faith and vowing to remain faithful to God and the church, young people are baptized. Weeks before, those longing to take this important step of faith receive counseling from colony leaders. This includes instruction and discussions on what starting a new life in God means and how this translates into being a faithful, contributing member of the church community.
In the days leading up to baptism, there are special teachings from Romans 6 and Matthew 28. This is followed by further instruction for the baptismal candidates and also a time for reflection and thanksgiving for all baptized brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Right after the pouring of the water for each person baptized in the Hutterian church comes this benediction:
Since God in His grace has been merciful to you and through the death of Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, and the intercession of the church has forgiven and remitted your sins, may He fill you with the powers from on high and write your name in the book of eternal life. May He keep you as a true brother/sister in the church to serve Jesus until the end. Amen.
This is one of the most powerful benedictions I know. It confirms the words of Peter: “And this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God” (1 Peter 3:21).
Each time I witness a baptism, my mind goes back in time when I was part of the group kneeling in front of the congregation. Remembering the special prayer, prior to answering the sacred questions and followed by the outward symbol of baptism and that powerful benediction, always prompts tears of gratitude.Whereas our ancestors suffered persecution, fled from country to country, and at times were compelled to gather secretly in the woods to partake of the Lord’s Supper, our lives are enriched by thriving communities and the freedom to celebrate these Lenten holy days peacefully