Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Five: The Water and the Word

RevHRod says:

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.

17 comments:

Wayne Stratz said...

Two thumbs up for those quilters.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

I love the quilt idea.

Love the thought of the pastor with the large cross. That was sweet.

RevHRod said...

I understand your feelings for "Borning Cry". I must admit that every so often it gets to me, kind of like a sappy Chick Flick on the Lifetime channel. But those moments are more and more rare.

Quotidian Grace said...

You KNOW I agree with you about Borning Cry. Ugh. Spare me.

The Ministers of the Cloth are truly truly an awesome group.

At the church we go to now the tradition is that the parents choose a verse of scripture to read before the baptism, which is very nice. And they don't sing Borning Cry--I don't ever expect to hear it there because the music director doesn't like it.

Auntie Knickers said...

"Great is Thy Faithfulness" is one of my favorite hymns, and I think it would be a great baptismal hymn. At my elder daughter's baptism we had "Awake, Awake to Love and Work" and I think that's a good one too.

DogBlogger said...

I didn't have time to play this week, but ever since I first heard "Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters," I've thought it's the perfect baptismal hymn.

And, wait... uh... did QG change churches again?

Diane said...

sadly, I know the author of borning cry..... and I agree with you. Unfortunately, most of my congregation does not.

like the babies who teethe on the cross, too.

zorra said...

QG and El Jefe changed churches last year. I miss them. We went to church together for many years.

I am glad I haven't stepped on too many toes with my strong opinion about the Borning Cry...

Kievas said...

The teething description is just great...I'm sure the pastor didn't mind :)

Rev Kim said...

I had never heard of "The Borning Cry" until reading it in some of today's Friday 5 plays. But if you & QG say it has bad theology, that's good enough for me! :)

I love the quilt idea. Yesterday I talked with someone who does prayer shawls about starting a prayer shawl ministry, where some of the recipients would be the newly baptized of any age.

St. Casserole said...

I knew Dr. Nunam from my years in that Presbytery. Losing him was another part of a great history leaving us.

I don't know the "Borning Cry" but will not like it, in your honor, if I ever hear it.

Quotidian Grace said...

St. C--
zorra and I will sing it for you at the Big Event.

zorra said...

But we have to sing it straightfaced. No eye rolling, no snarky comments. At least, not until we're finished.

Recovering Baptist said...

I'm shocked! you mean "wandering off to where demons dwell" is not good theology!

Hm, being one who faces you when you sing it I'm not sure you can keep a staightface. Especially at the "just one more surprise bit"!!!

zorra said...

RB, I'm sure you are aware that is exactly why I can't look up at that point...if I were to catch your eye, or Fergus's, or especially the Scientist's, all would be lost....

Jan said...

Totally off the subject, I'm tagging you for a silly middle name meme.

LutheranChik said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for expressing my feelings about "Borning Cry." Which I have to mostly keep to myself because 1)everyone else at my church seems to like it; and 2)my pastor is on a kinda-sorta first-name basis with the songwriter.

I feel so...liberated now.;-)