Monday, January 12, 2009

Baptismal Joy

In 22 years of appointed ministry (20 of which now counts for Pension credit, and yes, I'm counting), I've had the joy of being of a part of many significant events in the lives of the people I serve.

I've baptized quite a few folks. Babies, children and youth, and adults. I've baptized by sprinkling, pouring and immersion. I've baptized from the church font, in the creek outside the church, in the family pond, and of course, in a 101 degree therapeutic pool.

My youngest baptism was a weeks' old baby. My oldest was a 56 year old man.

Each baptism is a joy. It reminds us all of who we are and in the One who has named us, claimed us and made us Beloved Children of the Divine.

Last Sunday I was honored to baptize an adult, Laura.

The journey that brought her to the font of grace is hers to share, but what was clear to any who observed her at the altar was the joy of something so pure, so profound that it marked her, as surely it did all of us there who shared in the moment with her.

I had met with Laura for some weeks before this benchmark in her spiritual journey. I gave her The United Methodist Church's statement on Baptism, "By Water and the Spirit," When we met days before her baptism she brought it with her and showed me where she had read it, highlighted portions, taken notes...the sister was ready.

It was a beautiful thing to watch her expression through this whole experience. It was "the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace" that had washed over her.

And as it was with the baptism of Jesus, it happened in our sanctuary, too. Did you hear it?

"This is my daughter," the voice said. "Marked by my love. Pride of my life."

Being there for her moment reminded me that the same voice has claimed me in mine.

Did you hear that, too?

Because if that's true, I want to live my life like knowing that truth matters.

How about you?

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Laura's baptism was an awesome experience, even though those of us in the choir couldn't see anything at the font because of the pulpit (rats), but I could see her face throughout the service. She was exuding energy from her spot in the pew. And the whole service was moving so I wasn't the only one jazzed Sunday, to be sure.

Sunday also happened to be the 5th anniversary of Sophie's baptism, the way the calendar rolls around. She was 4 weeks old when you baptised her, Johnny. But Sunday as we were waiting in the pew to take our place to "remember our baptism", Sophie made the sign of the cross on John's and my foreheads. She's learning by example, and what better example than her church family.

I'm so glad that she being nurtured at St. John's where her family teaches her about loving and taking care of people and who God is... so much so that she recently flung her arms wide while eating at Blue Coast Burrito and said loudly, "God loves EVERYBODY!"

That's a good message to spread to the world. Thanks for setting her on that path.