During worship on Sunday, 70-year-old Janice went forward to put on her Lord in baptism (Gal. 3:27). As is our custom, we all gathered around into a large circle around the auditorium after worship. This “welcome circle” is meant to represent Christians all over the world who have put on Christ and are now united. It represents Janice’s new spiritual family who stands ready to support, encourage, and help her in any way we can. We sang songs like “God is So Good” and “I’m Happy Today.” One of our elders prayed for Janice, and then we each went up and hugged and welcomed our new sister into the Lord’s body. Her shining face was truly a beautiful sight to behold.
But here’s what I really love about the welcome circle:
I love being able to look around and make eye contact with every member. It’s a treat to be able to look at the faces around the circle and think about my relationship with them, how thankful I am for them, or what prayer needs they may have.
I love seeing the expressions on their faces. No heart is untouched by a baptism. Whether young or old, each face reflects emotion. Everyone is smiling, and many are doing so through tears. I imagine most of us are recalling the day we obeyed the gospel ourselves.
I love the sense of connection. In an increasingly disconnected society, I’m especially grateful for the sweet tie that binds us together in Christ. These relationships are real and everlasting.
I love the joy. After the circle broke up, I looked around in every direction. The building was filled with groups of people whose faces were bright. There were no polite or half-hearted smiles, but genuine teeth-showing grins. Our hearts were encouraged and our strength was renewed. This happiness can’t be fabricated or bought or forced. It’s simply the unique joy experienced by those who love God and love His people.
“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).