Therefore, I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory.—2 Peter 1:12-13
At church on Sunday, our pastor closed the service making the sign of the cross to all three sides of the congregation, solemnly repeating, “Remember your baptism and be glad.”
I did remember…and have always been glad.
At the age of eight, kneeling at the altar of East End Methodist Church in Nashville, I told God I was sorry for my sins and I asked Jesus into my heart to save me. It was a special day—a cleansing, a new beginning for those of us rising from the primary department to the Intermediate Department! Even the sound of those words was impressive.
Now we would get to have Sunday School upstairs with the big kids instead of downstairs with the “babies.” No more colorful newsprint handouts. We would be studying out of a thick red book with smaller print called In Wisdom and Stature, which meant we would grow like Jesus did. And best of all, we would each receive our very own Bible with our name on it—in gold!
For the occasion, my grandmother had made me a new dress out of a special fabric that changed colors with the angle of the light. Mother had washed my hair the night before and rolled it up on socks while we watched Lawrence Welk. My god-parents, Uncle Robert and Aunt Frances, had driven clear across town to be present on this auspicious occasion.
And so it was, with awe and a sense of gravity, that I knelt on the crimson cushion that day and received, for myself, a baptism my parents had brokered for me at birth. It was a significant step. I recalled the pressure of the pastor’s hand as he administered the sacred water to the top of my head uttering the words: “Marcia McDonald, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.” As soon as he spoke, the water escaped from his grasp. Like a runaway waterfall, it cascaded the length of my squeaky clean locks, slicing through the thick sock curls and deftly slithering down my neck to its ultimate destination—the small of my back.
I felt a shiver of exhilaration and smiled at the remembrance. Then I was struck by a strange parallel. I suddenly saw myself fourteen years later kneeling at the altar, this time dressed in white. Beside me was a handsome young man who had also received a Bible with his name on it on the same day I did, but in a different church, in another southern city. As we knelt on crimson cushions to say our wedding vows, once again, I felt a liquid trickle the length of my spine. Two different anointings at a similarly sacred moment of commitment—one administered intentionally, the other courtesy of a broken air conditioning system on a hot June day—both a means of grace to indelibly define, in my mind for all time, a covenant moment with God.
Sometimes it’s good to be reminded.
Sign up for blogs and updates here.