They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
I like to tell people my first job was working for my grandfather, Walt. Walt owned a construction company called Premier Finishes, which focused on commercial interior construction; think drywall. He let me, as a little 12 year-old, hover around construction sites, clean-up, and learn what actual work felt like. Thought I would never admit it at the time, it was one of the most formative experiences of my life. Plus I can say I worked construction, so there’s that.
However, my favorite experience growing up was riding around with Pa Walt in his truck. If we timed it just right we would get to listen to that famed radio personality Paul Harvey. I always enjoyed bouncing down the highway, gravel road, or city streets hoping to get a chance to hear Harvey say, “and now you know the rest of the story.”
There’s a bit of “rest of the story” quality to what those early Christians devoted themselves to: learning, socializing, communing, and praying, all with the other believers. After the veneer of Spirit filled Pentecost had worn off and all those gathered had the opportunity to return to their daily lives, it could have been extremely simple to go back to the same old life, the same routine. But they didn’t, their baptism wasn’t the end of the story. It continued on.
Instead, they did something radical, they lived as if their covenant with God and each other actually mattered. We get a look into what repentance or changing one’s heart, mind, and life might actually mean. In the waters of baptism and through the Spirit, they received the gift of life with God in Christ, and then went and showed what that might look like.
Instead of returning back to their ordinary lives, their lives were utterly and resolutely changed. They couldn’t go back. Their baptism wasn’t the ending of their story. They didn’t merely bask in the glory of God’s grace but moved on from it. Baptism was their launching spot into the community of God devoted to doing some of the most intimate things with one another: learning more about Christ, hanging out, cooking and eating, and even praying.
If you want to know what should happen after baptism, what should happen in the Church, well now you know the rest of the story.
May it be so this day.