Malibu Beach Baptism


This week, our community will gather for our annual baptism service. This will be our second beach baptism in Malibu. It’s a simple service drenched in depth and made complete with coffee, breakfast, song, communion, and baptism. Last year, Alex, Annette, and Allison were baptized in the cool October waters. It was a beautiful day. We decided to go to the beach for baptism service for a few reasons. First, there is a distinct sense of the moment when this ancient ritual occurs outside. The feel of an autumn wind or your sense of the sand between your toes, grounds the sacrament uniquely in time and space. I first experienced the practice of beach baptism while living in Kihei, Hawaii on Maui. It was extraordinary to witness the community create a special space in order to celebrate baptism. In a somewhat subtle but profound way, a beach baptism can demonstrate the love that’s declared within the sacrament. I have recounted several times how the loss of UBC pastor Kyle Lake had a profound impact on my life, spirituality, and experience of Christian community. After his death, once a year, our community created outdoor space at Indian Spring Park in downtown Waco for both baptism and to grieve Kyle’s absence, the reason that we were all outside. These baptism services were sacred moments of Christian community. During Jesus' baptism, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus comes out of the water to a voice that says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.” Baptism principally recognizes that you are completely loved. Grace is the acceptance that you are accepted, as Paul Tillich has asserted. One of my favorite spiritual thinkers, Henri Nouwen, communicates it this way: "Jesus offers us baptism as the way to enter into communion with God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and to live our lives as God's loved children." Whether your 9 days old or 90 years old, in a church or at the beach, the celebration of baptism is a beautiful occasion. This week, we'll be at the beach.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you’re invited to join us at 10am at the north end of Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, near lifeguard stand 16.