Hundreds gathered Sunday at 67 E. Algonquin Road in South Barrington for an event of epic proportions - Willow Creek Community Church's lakeside baptisms.
"This is a monumental event for our church," pastor Bill Hybels said. "Many of us will go into the water. The most important part is that we put you way under the water - some of you need to go deeper than others, so just tell us. Then we raise you up and you have that sense of being washed from head to toe - that Christ has cleansed you."
At 1:30 p.m., Willow congregants, family and friends gathered at the church's on-campus "lake" to watch loved ones "take the plunge" (for details on my decision, see Friday's blog post, "My Willow Creek, Lake Immersion, Adult Baptism Experience"). I did it, as did my sister's boyfriend Paul, who was in town visiting for the weekend and took action after being inspired by Hybels' sermon.
"I felt led to be baptized after the sermon today," Paul said. "I felt more than ready - the sermon really spoke to me. It seemed like a no-brainer."
My college Bible study group leaders were baptized in the water alongside me as well - all in all, it was a completely blessed day. As my leader, Dee, said: "What a beautiful picture God created today today we are all new!!!"
Here's a short video visually illustrating the ancient sacrament of baptism brought to life at Willow Creek. Baptizees nailed their sins to the cross, then took the plunge at the hands of pastors and elders in the water, just like believers did 2,000 years ago:
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."