Sharp About Your Prayers

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Do You Remember?

September 21st, 2010 · 13 Comments · Faith and the City

In some churches, baptism looks likes this:

The person to be baptized approaches the font, the minister dips her hands into the water and speaks the ancient words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Then she says, “Sally, welcome into the church of Jesus Christ—the family of God.”

But the ceremony is not over yet.

Looking out at the congregation, the pastor puts both of her hands back into the stone bowl, and with a quick motion, lifts her arms.  Splattering the nearest members of the congregation with water, she booms, “Remember your baptism!”

Remember your baptism?

It is a funny phrase.  Isn’t it?  After all, many of us who were baptized as infants cannot remember the details of our dousing.  All that we have to mark the day is a certificate tucked into a baby book or a tiny gown neatly folded at the bottom of a chest.

Still, we may know a bit more than that.

We know where it happened… at a little Baptist Church in Alabama, in a cathedral in Germany, down by a river in Kenya.

Or perhaps we know who did it… an uncle who became a priest, a one-eyed preacher from Wisconsin, a family friend.  We probably know whether it was a sprinkling or a full dunking.

So, I am curious this morning; as I am working (full disclosure) on a sermon entitled, “Wash.”

What do you remember about your baptism?  Would you please share a story.

What happened the day that you were welcomed into the church of Jesus Christ?

Or perhaps, in lieu of that,  you could describe a baptism that you found meaningful.  Is there one you have witnessed that made you think, “There is something holy here.  There is grace in this water.”

Maybe there is a better way to ask the question…

Have you ever been watching a baptism and thought, “I was once doused by these waters too?”

After all, “Remember your baptism” could simply be a fancy way of saying, “Remember that you too have passed through the clear waters.  You too have been claimed in them.  You too are beloved of God.”

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Lynn Pitz

    I remember parts of my baptism, and do think about it at times. I was raised a Baptist, hence, total immersion as a child. I guess I was about 10. After special Sunday school classes on the meaning of Christianity and the significance of baptism, the big day arrived. All of us, who were to be baptised that Sunday, were given white gowns to wear and instructions on what to do ( keep your mouths closed and pinch your nostrils together), and how to enter the baptismal pool, located behind the pulpit. When I heard my name announced, I stepped down into the warm water. Our pastor stood in the water, and with a kind smile, and words similar to the ones used for our adult baptisms, lowered me into the water. I came up, unscathed, but forever a Christian, a follower of Jesus, a child of God. Wonderful!

  • Mary RoseNo Gravatar

    I remember my baptism very well. It was in my home church in the little town of Moravia, Iowa.
    The church had a big baptismal fount that was
    opened up for baptisms by immersion. I was
    about 11 years old. Several people of all ages were baptised at the same time. We slipped out
    of the Sunday morning worship service in time
    to change our clothes into something that could
    get wet (but yet was a nice dress). You took a
    big breath, held your nose and were dunked deep into the pool, which was located below the
    choir loft. It was a very meaningful and memorable experience. Relatives came to witness the baptism and came home for Sunday dinner afterward.

  • LaurenNo Gravatar

    What I know is fairly anecdotal, as I was a baby.
    1) I wore the same christening gown as my father.
    2) My grandmother and great-grandmother probably had a hand in creating said garment.
    3) I was baptized in the Episcopal church where my father grew up in Emporium, PA.
    4) It was so hot on the Sunday I was baptized the varnish on the pews adhered to the dresses and suits of the congregation.

    Since I have no memory of the day, when I “remember my baptism” I think of my family who was there and probably promised to teach me about the love of Jesus Christ. They have fulfilled on their promise, and I hope to fulfill on that promise every time we have a baptism at FAPC.

  • JennicaNo Gravatar

    What I know about my baptism comes from old pictures in the family photo albums. I know that my twin sister and I were baptized together when we were babies, and that my older brother (then only four) was there with us. My father held one of us and my mother the other (can’t tell which was which). We were dressed in little white dresses and my parents seemed very happy.

  • MatthewNo Gravatar

    What I have is a picture of me in the arms of the pastor who baptized me, standing next to my parents who look impossibly young. Our family had moved while my mother was pregnant with me, so while we lived in one town my baptism took place in another.
    A little over thirty years later I was attending a continuing ed. event in Chicago, about three months after my ordination to Word and Sacrament. I recognized the white haired man perusing the book table and enthusiastically introduced him to the colleagues I’d traveled with, “he baptized me!”

    • John Crane

      I was baptized as a small baby by Dr. Farber at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Unfortunately, that church is long gone. I have the Bible from then but unfortunately do not know anything further. John

      P.S.: Both of our children were baptized by Dr. Kirkland in very moving ceremonies.

  • John

    I don’t remember the events of my baptism, but I feel the effect.

    I was baptized in our home in Leakey, Texas just steps away from the Frio river. The exact spot was in front of a rock window sill that was a special place for my family. My parents still point out that place. My mom held me, my dad stood near, my brother and three sisters were there too. The pastor who baptized me was new to the area and was settling in. My mom and dad have the certificate so I am not sure of the day but I would guess it was in November of 1965. I don’t know the words that were said but I do know that I was marked as a child of God then.

  • ericNo Gravatar

    I remember it well. My older brother had been baptized as an infant, but my younger brother and I had never been baptized. At age 13, I remember us telling our mother that we would go to Hell in the afterlife, but at least we would be together! Within a few weeks my brother (who was 11) and I were baptized at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church. I remember Father Mason telling us something about grafting, the horticultural analogy of joining the church….

  • DevinNo Gravatar

    I don’t remember my baptism at all, which is a shame because it sounded like lots of fun. My mom tells this story.

    I was baptized in the Northridge United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, when I was about four years old. It was Easter Sunday, so the church was packed. My older sister (who was almost six years old) and my mom were all being baptized and my mom was also joining the church. Because we were being baptized, we sat in the front row. I was seated right on the center aisle. As the ministers and acolytes processed in from the back of the church, I made guns out of my hands and shot them as they approached (making the sounds “POW! POW!” rather than “bang”). When the time came for baptism, I would not be still, and continued to shoot the minister and members of the congregation. POW! POW! The minister reassured my mom that everything was fine and the baptism continued. When the baptism was finished, my sister and I sat down in the front row and my mom stayed up at the front to join the church. When my mom was just about finished, I stood up in the center aisle, put my gun (hand) to my head, and shot myself. POW! I threw myself on the steps and died beautifully.

  • adj

    Hi Scott – I have a question, can one be baptized more than once? Does that baptism of infancy cover all or can one be baptized again as a consenting and willing individual?

  • Ken

    I remember m baptism very well. I was baptised on an Easter Sunday, by immersion, at the First Christian Church in Griffin, GA, when I was 11. I had gone up on Palm Sunday to give my profession of faith in front of the congregation. There was a group of us being baptized that day in the pool in the church up past the communion table. We all had on short white cotton choir type robes. I remember that I was not sure whether I was supposed to feel compeletely differerent afterwards, but I did feel special as a “full member” of the community.

  • NeilNo Gravatar

    I don’t recall my baptism as I was an infant. However, I am told that I screamed the whole time. My parents have a photo of me in the family christening gown, which my kids saw and asked why I was wearing a dress. Strange things, christening gowns.

    While I can’t recall my own, I have fond memories of the baptism of my oldest child by Randy Webber seven years ago. FAPC was under construction and services were being held in the Central Synagogue. There was something surreal and altogether New York about that experience and to this day we allow our son to believe that he is a bit Jewish because of it. He certainly has a fantastic baptism story.

  • ArlineNo Gravatar

    I don’t remember my actual baptism in a Lutheran church in the Bronx. But I clearly remember a virtual baptism that occurred when I attended a Catholic Easter Mass with a friend in Astoria several years ago, which I think is a custom every Easter. The priest goes through the aisle with an instrument he swings, sprinkling water over all. I remember a drop hitting my face. And while I do not remember his words in memory of our baptism, I did feel baptised. And I wished that such a renewal could be custom for all Christians at some point in the church year.