In this Sunday's gospel Nicodemus asks Jesus, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Poor old Nicodemus! He was so confused about the whole "water and Spirit" business of baptism.
For today's five, tell us about your baptismal experiences.
1. When and where were you baptized? Do you remember it? Know any interesting tidbits?
I was baptized in my home church, First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, Mississippi, when I was about seven months old. The dear pastor who baptized me, Dr. T. Russell Nunan, died last year at the age of ninety-nine. He was a wonderful man of God whose ministry meant a lot to my parents and to me. Mama used to tell me that I squeaked a little when he put the water on my head, but I didn't cry.
After I made a profession of faith (outside my church) at sixteen, I decided that I needed to be baptized again, and was immersed at a friend's church by her father--I think he was a lay preacher. That seemed like the right thing to do then, and was meaningful to me at the time, but later I came to believe that it was unnecessary--my "real" baptism had taken place years before.
2. What's the most unexpected thing you've ever witnessed at a baptism?
You can never predict how a baby will react to the whole thing, so in a sense every baptism includes something unexpected. Some squeak, some laugh, a few shriek! Our former pastor always wore a large cross, and many babies teethed on it as he carried them up the aisle.
3. Does your congregation have any special traditions surrounding baptisms?
Oh, me. We have to sing this godawful song, "The Borning Cry". If you love it, I apologize, but I can't stand it. Both the poetry and the theology make me wince. I think now that we are looking for a new pastor, it would be a great time to leave this tradition behind, but unfortunately I'm in the minority. A much better tradition in our congregation comes from our quilting group, the Ministers of the Cloth; they make a beautiful quilt for each child who is baptized. (They also make wonderful quilts for wounded soldiers who have come back to the States to recuperate, but that's another story.)
4. Are you a godparent or baptismal sponsor? Have a story to tell?
No, but when some close friends had their baby baptized some years ago, I was the elder who presented him and asked the questions directed to the congregation. I loved doing that.
5. Do you have a favorite baptismal song or hymn?
I've always thought that "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" would be a good baptismal hymn.