Sunday, November 13, 2011

 

Sunday Reflection: Take me to the river...


Last weekend's service at St. Stephens, which included the baptism of Benjamin Neil Willard, was one of my all-time favorites. I loved the spirit of it, and the message. Ben, of course, did his part, with a look of slightly puzzled contentment as the water was poured over him as he sat in the baptismal font.

I have been baptized twice. I was baptized as an infant. Then, when I was 16, I went through the confirmation process at my Congregational church. As I studied the Bible in preparation for my confirmation, I became convinced that what I really wanted was a believer's baptism, by immersion. Eventually, I approached the leadership of the church and asked for exactly that.

As one might expect, they were baffled by the request at first. No one had ever done that in the church, and they had no equipment for it, or knowledge of how to do it. To their credit, though, the Ministers (Roy Hutcheon and Jack Skiles) found a way for me to do it. They asked a Baptist church to do it, and studied up on the process. On the appointed day, I left in the middle of a softball game (my school newspaper staff v. our rivals from Grosse Pointe South) and was baptized again.

It was an overwhelming and moving experience. With it came a calm and quiet I have held ever since. It was, as much as anything, a washing of sorts, a bathing, the removal of all that the world might put on me that covers my true and real self, one form of God's creation.

As I washed the water pour over the infant, Ben Willard, I remembered that day. The feeling, though, I did not have to remember, because it has carried with me ever since. I too often ignore it, or obscure it, but it is always there, God's offer to cleanse me and heal me, and with that comes wholeness, and joy, and the feeling of calm we long for in storms.

Comments:
I've been baptized twice, too. Same ages, in fact. You seemed to have a much better sense of the meaning than I did. I am going through RCIA and am relieved I don't have to do it a third time.
 
My grandmother was baptized twice; but the second time she was in her 40s or 50s. And, similarly, First Baptist church allowed the Episcopal bishop to use their immersion pool. I've always been inspired by her conscious choice. Thank you for sharing this, it was a good way to start the day.
 
Double dippers unite!
Megan, I have the opposite sense... as I move towards a new church, I feel like I need to be baptized again!
 
Mark, I always enjoy your sermons.

Scott Davis
 
Will a third baptism wash away your objections to the creed of your new church?

Must be some powerful sins to require one sprinkle and two dunks!

Lee
 
Whenever I see babies baptized in the creek,our creek,I want to jump in immediately and say,"Me too. Me too." The feeling you describe is what I feel when I am totally present in prayer. This calm,this wondrous washing that leaves you so sure that as Browning says,"God's in His Heaven,all's right with the world." He's right here and right now,and I don't have to carry it all. Looove your photograph,kiddo. You just get better and better. It is as if the trees are companionably reaching out to one another and to the creek.Beautiful,beautiful.
 
@Lee- we can only hope. But I wouldn't bet on it.
 
Mark's references to opportunities of entry for the Holy Spirit speaks to the baptismal waters He uses to cleanse and renew us each time we leave our burdens at the foot of His cross.

"With it came (comes) a calm and quiet I have held ever since."

Many of us enjoy your sermons...
 
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