This Sunday is another baptism Sunday at Central Church! Hooray! I love baptisms; although, I must confess to a few less-than-stellar baptism moments in my ministerial career.
In one church, we didn’t have a baptistery, so we borrowed a nearby church for an afternoon baptism service. The baptistery-blessed congregation graciously allowed the use of their facility and didn’t charge us a penny. I only wish the fine folks had informed us that their baptistery heater didn’t work. What’s the old saying about getting what you pay for? I discovered that day that it is very difficult to say: “I baptize thee” when your teeth won’t stop chattering.
In my last church, before I arrived they had the opposite happen. The heater for the baptistery also broke, but it went into overdrive. The water was so hot they almost had preacher soup (also known as “David Busic Bisque”)!
As you know, I am not the brawniest pastor in the ecclesiastical world. That fact, coupled with a slippery fiberglass baptismal tank bottom, resulted in both the baptizee (a rather large man) and the baptizer (me) go underwater. Moreover, during our attempt to stand up, we both nearly went down for a “second blessing.” There is no truth to the rumor that the organist started a heavenly rendition of “Splish Splash I was taking a bath” as we exited the baptistery.
On another occasion, I was baptizing a rather tall gentleman and did not correctly calculate the distance between the tall man’s head and the back of the baptismal tank. Geometry was not my specialty. As you might have guessed, when baptizing the lengthy fellow, I clunked his head on the tank. After the service, when I embarrassingly told his girlfriend about the mishap, she replied: “Good! I hope he has amnesia. I’ll tell him we’re engaged!” Memory loss had nothing to do with the fact that they are now happily married. At least, I don’t think it did. Hmm?!
Once immediately before dunking a lady, she turned to me with terror in her eyes and whispered that she was deathly afraid of water and that “she just couldn’t do it.” (This was years before the near drowning and “head thumping” episodes, so tales of my baptizing skills did not factor into her apprehension). At that moment, I was glad our church doesn’t measure the amount of water needed to qualify for a baptism (We’ll dunk, pour water, or toss a few sprinkles in the general direction of the baptized). I poured a handful of water over her head, and everybody was happy and blessed.
Remembering these stories brought a smile to my face. Remembering my baptism brought a deep sense of joy. Baptism is something in which all believers should participate. Baptism is a really big deal in the life of the Christian. It is making a huge statement: I am a believer! It symbolizes our new life in Christ and declares that our sins have been washed away! Of course the most compelling argument to be baptized is that Jesus commanded us to do it. Which pretty much settles the question of whether a believer should be baptized or not.
So believer, be baptized. And one other bit of advice: If you have yet to “climb into the water,” before you do inquire if the pastor has correctly calculated the distance between your head and the back of the baptismal tank. You can thank me later.