Wineskins Archive

February 6, 2014

AfterGlow: Mountaintop Experiences (Jan-Apr 2000)

Filed under: — @ 1:50 am and

by Phillip Morrison
January – April, 2000

Mountaintop experiences don’t always occur on high places. In May of this year I had a mountaintop experience 676 feet bellow sea level when I led a group of fifty-one pastors from twenty-two states, fifteen denominations, and six ethnic groups on a familiarization tour of the Holy Land. There were fifteen women and thirty-six men – from Catholics to Pentecostals – in our group.

I assigned different individuals and groups to be in charge of devotionals and worship times, and asked them to conduct the services as they normally would. We left the hotel in Tiberius early Sunday morning to go across the Sea of Galilee, which is really a lake locally known as Kinneret. Methodist pastors were in charge of the worship and, when we stopped the boat about half way across the Sea, a 63-year-old woman pastor from Tennessee preached a wonderful sermon. Then three other Methodist pastors presided at communion, using a chalice we had bought in Nazareth the day before, wine we had bought at Cana, and bread obtained from an Arab shop early Sunday morning.

When we finished our journey across the Sea and landed at Capernaum, I gave the preacher a hug, and thanked her for the message. She said, “No, I want to thank you for doing me the favor of asking, and I’d like to ask you for one more favor: When we get to the Jordan River this afternoon, would you immerse me?” I told her I would be honored, and that people often want to reenact their baptism at the Jordan. She said that it was more than that for her, that she had felt the need for many years.

While I was trying to comprehend the wonder of her request, another woman pastor, a Baptist from South Dakota, asked if I would immerse her. She said, “I want you to understand that I’m not reenacting anything or symbolizing anything; I need to be immersed to have my sins washed away!” Before we reached the Jordan, an Assemblies of God pastor from Florida and an independent pastor from Alabama made similar requests.

Remembering that the current at the baptismal site is swift and the footing a bit uncertain, I asked a Methodist minister if he could assist me. He said, “Sure I do that all the time. So many people in our church are requesting immersion that we have put in a baptistery!”

When we reached the Jordan and changed into our rented white robes, I explained to the entire group the requests that had been made. Then I reminded them that I had encouraged all of them to conduct devotionals, etc. in their customary way, and I said, “I only know one way to baptize. My understanding of Scripture, as well as my experience and practice, lead me to baptize people by immersion, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the purpose of washing away sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way I know to baptize here at the Jordan or anywhere else.”

So Roland and I baptized Susan, Rosemary, Jerry, and Steven. We all sang “We Are One in the Spirit,” “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in This Place,” and other appropriate songs.

There in the river where Jesus was baptized by John, I gave thanks for the sacrifice he made to take away our sins, and for giving us his Spirit to strengthen us daily. In both communion and baptism a diverse group of believers had celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.Wineskins Magazine

Phillip Morrison

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