I was Baptized Today!

Written: 24 October, 1999

Well, the title says it all, I guess. It's funny how when I first started going to church, how I remembered every little thing, and I'd be able to write a big long post about what I experienced, but how now that I've been going for awhile (today was my 5th Sunday worshipping at the Presbyterian church, I think), how I have less to say about it. Not that I'm getting less out of it, but that those little things that were new to me the first time around are becoming a little more familiar and I don't feel like commenting on them or anything.

Anyway, I did want to know in advance how the baptism thing would go, so I'd asked the pastor after class (right before worship) if someone would call my name and that is how I'd know to walk up to the front or what. And he said yes, that's how it would be, and that it would be before the sermon.

I knew that I'd be getting baptized at the same time as an infant being baptized, scheduled for October 24th (today). The pastor had told me that back on October 5th when he talked with me about baptism, to see if I could answer "yes" to the questions that he would ask me during the baptism ceremony. And, of course, I said "Yes" to the questions. (Actually, I had told him "Yeah" a few times and then said, "oops, I better say Yes when I get baptized" and he said, "I'll take what I can get...a nod up and down, etc."!) Anyway, after talking with me on October 5th, he said that I could be baptised, and that he'd offer my name to the Session and then they'd approve it, and then I could be baptized on October 24th, when the other baptism (the infant) was scheduled. And last Sunday or the Sunday before, he told me I'd been approved by the Session.

He'd told me that people often invite family to be there at their baptism. I said that my family was not religious, but he said that didn't matter -- "Maybe they'll become Christians afterward!" So, my sister said that she'd come, and it looked like my mom might come, too, although my mom seemed a little hesitant to go, raising reasons why she might not be able to (too early in the morning, not having the right clothing, etc.). And so yesterday my sister told my mom that if she didn't want to go, she didn't have to, so she didn't attend. But my sister attended, and it was nice to be able to share this part of my life with someone else, especially a family member. So when I mention the pastor, or the inside of the church, my sister will know what I'm talking about from her own experience.

Anyway, to cut to the chase: Before the service, the pastor usually walks around greeting some of the people coming in or sitting in the pews, and I usually say hello to him again then. And so this time I pointed out my sister sitting next to me and introduced them. My name and the infant's name were printed in the program, listing who was being baptized during that part of the service. Naturally, I was a little nervous before the baptism, but I wanted to make a public acknowledgement of my faith that the baptism offered, and also because I'd gone through my life with the knowledge that I was not baptized and I wanted to be baptized to affirm the change in my life. Well, anyway, before the sermon time, the pastor called my name and the infant's name, and I walked up there, and stood next to him, and the family of the infant brought him up. The pastor asked me if I considered Jesus my savior and all that, and I said "yes" and he asked the parents of the child if they wanted their child to be a Christian or something like that, and they said "yes." And then the pastor put his hand in some water and patted it on the child's head a few times, saying something like "I baptize you in the name of the Father," (pat) "the Son," (pat) "and the Holy Ghost" (pat), and then he raised the kid up and went up the aisle and said something to the congregation. Then he went back to me and did the same for me, putting cold water on my head, which I felt run down my hair and a few drops fell on my shoulder. Then he said something to me about how he prayed for me to continue on my Christian journey or words to that effect, and then the congregation affirmed that they would encourage us to continue in our faith, help us to be Christians, and then it was done and we sat back down.

I'd warned my sister the day before that the pastor might say something from the pulpit asking if there were any guests in the room to make themselves known. I'd noticed he'd done that on the first day I attended worship there, but I didn't say anything because I wasn't sure if he meant me or what. Looking back on it now, I see that he probably did mean me, and that the purpose of having me made known as a guest to everyone there, would be so that the people there would realize that I was new and would make sure to make feel welcome if they saw me in the hall later. I realize that now, because usually only one or two people would say anything to me in the Social Hall after the worship service (yes, I've finally worked up nerve to sit down and eat a donut in there after worship), but after the baptism, lots of people came up to me and shook my hand and congratulated me and welcomed me to the church and to the "family." In fact, the lady who had her infant baptized even invited me to attend the dinner they were having that day to celebrate the infant's baptism, but I declined, saying that my sister and I were going to go out to eat with my mom that day (turns out my mom had already made plans with a friend of hers, though). So, anyway, I had warned my sister that the pastor might ask for any visitors to identify themselves, and sure enough from the pulpit he said something like, "Rob's sister is here with us today," and asked her name, and she gave her name, but she didn't stand up or anything. (We're the kind of family that, to give you an idea, has an unwritten rule about birthdays: If ever we go out to a restaurant and one of us is having a birthday that day, under no circumstances are any of the others to inform the waitress that it's that person's birthday -- because we all want to avoid the embarrassing spectacle of the waiters and waitesses singing "happy birthday" to us, as sometimes happens in restaurants.) Anyway, my sister saying her name in public was relatively painless enough.

I've been going to an informal class after the worship service, which is required in order to join the church. This was the second class today; there are four classes in all, held each Sunday after worship, and they last around 30 minutes. They are really informal and's just me and one other person joining, and the class is led by a lady who sings in the choir and another lady, both of whom have been going to the church for several years. We just sit at a table in the library and go over some Bible verses and talk about what the church believes. My sister was going to go pick up my Mom while I was in the class and then they'd pick me up after that. I assumed the class would be over by then, and I told my sister I'd be either sitting in the lounge or at the door by the lounge. While I was still in the class in the library, I could see the parking lot from the window and my sister pull up without my mom and head inside, so I asked if it was okay if I go out to tell her I was still in class and so I did. She opened up the lounge door, and the pastor was in there with like 4 other people and she said "Where's Rob?" and he said, "In the class," or whatever, but by then I saw her and told her I'd be a few more minutes and so she waited on a couch in the hall and I went back into the library and the class session finished up (where we decided to meet 2 Sundays from now, not next Sunday, due to various plans) and then went back downstairs and went with my sister out to eat.

So, that was it. I was glad that my sister (not the ones who posted on the comics board about abortion, by the way) got to share in this church experience with me, even though she is not a Christian, and I'm glad that I was baptized, which is a demonstration of my Christian faith.