Baptism Episodes

We have baptism ceremonies almost every week. There’s a long list of people waiting to be baptized but I try not to baptize more than 8 people a week. Otherwise the worship service can get too long.

Baptism is a solemn occasion but we have had our share of lighter moments.

Some larger members do not trust my strength. Several have said to me with a worried look, “I am pretty heavy. Can you handle me OK?” Let me assure you that this is not a problem. The buoyancy of water makes it relatively easy to support any person’s weight.

If there is a problem it is usually not because a person is too heavy but because a person is too tall. Our baptismal tub is not long enough. Tall people can hit their heads on the wall of the tub when I immerse them. To prevent this, the person in charge of the baptism ceremony asks taller people to bend their knees when they are immersed, which usually works out all right. Usually. One time I was baptizing a taller man, and as usual he was instructed to bend his knees. But he must have been nervous because as I started to immerse him, he remained upright and straight. It reached a crisis level as I lowered him and saw that his head was going to hit the wall. At the very last moment, I twisted his body so he lay diagonally in the tub, his head barely missing the wall.

Then there was a woman who was afraid of water. Despite her fears, she was determined to go through with her baptism, and rightly so. And she did well, up until the point where I started to lower her backwards into the water. Suddenly, her phobia resurfaced and she started battling me, grabbing at the sides of the tub in a desperate attempt to stay out of the water. To this day I don’t remember how I finished baptizing her.

Sometimes strange things happen during baptism. One woman gave a testimony that she saw angels surrounding the sanctuary as she was walking into the baptismal water. She’s a medical doctor so it is difficult to say she was hallucinating. Sometimes, people claim that long term illnesses and ailments disappeared after they received baptism.

As you know I confirm the relationship with our triune God when I baptize to keep the ceremony from being perfunctory. So as I baptize, I ask, “Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal savior and Lord?” “Do you believe that you are a beloved child of God the Father?” “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit who resides in you giving you new desire and power?” “Do you have an assurance that you would go to heaven if you were to die right this moment?” People answer with firm voice, “Amen!” Many of them become emotional and shed tears.

These are moments a pastor treasures. And because of the power and joy of these moments, baptism is never tiring, no matter how many people I baptize. Or how heavy they are.

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