'Fifty years ago today I was baptised - symbolically declaring that my old selfish life was over and that I was becoming a new person in Christ'
CHRISTIAN Comment with Peter Farley of Minchinhampton Baptist Church.
Having just had my 67th birthday, I'm getting used to the idea that considerably more of my life is behind me than ahead of me.
And, you know, I don't really mind.
It won't surprise you to hear that there's still a lot in my life to look forward to.
The birth of another grandchild in the New Year, foreign travel, hopefully many more years of active retirement.
But there's also a huge amount to look back on - with gratitude and thankfulness.
More than 40 years of married life, two careers, a mortgage finally paid off, three children brought up and happily married themselves, my wife's recent cancer now resolved through surgery, medication and a great deal of prayer.
And at another level, having come to faith in my childhood, I look back on a whole life of enjoying the closeness of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
This month was particularly poignant for me as today, Sunday, August 25, marks 50 years to the day since I was baptised - by immersion - in the church where I was brought up in Guildford.
I had just taken my A-levels and was planning on going to university.
It seemed appropriate to be baptised then as a public declaration of my desire to follow Christ into my adult years.
Now, 50 years later, I still think that was the right decision.
My Christian faith is as strong now as it was then - more mature and considered, I hope, and refined by the tests of time but just as fervent and just as central to my life.
Different churches have different traditions.
Baptism by immersion is full of rich symbolism.
In the Bible, the Apostle Paul explains it like this: "buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God" (Colossians 2:12).
So, by being plunged under water 50 years ago, I was symbolically declaring that my old selfish life was over and that I was becoming a new person in Christ.
Heady stuff, and no doubt I haven't lived up to that promise much of the time.
But God has been good to me over the past 50 years.
And I look forward to what God has in store for me in the future.
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