Well, might not’ve expected THAT title, eh? I grew up in a Christian home and profess my faith here on the regular… isn’t baptism something that should’ve happened a long time ago? Isn’t that was Christians have to do?
While commonly portrayed as a Catholic endeavor (ala the famous baptism scene in The Godfather), there are many others who believe baptism is part of salvation. There are number of variances in what exactly this means, but to many it is seen as a requirement for saving one’s soul. I was raised in a family who does not believe this way. The churches I’ve attended since youth are on the other side of this argument, in which baptism is valuable and an important public expression, but that’s where it ends; it is not necessary for salvation.
I will leave the theological conversation to others, as a basic online search will lead you to many, many articles on the subject — some for, some against. While I differ with my folks on certain points of belief, in this regard we are of like mind… and this is how I came to be a 34-year-old Christian man who had never been baptized.
Before I started dating Sydney, I attended her church with her. Since then, it has been an unbelievable blessing. Unlike churches I’d attended in the past, our current church has a baptismal and the pastor offers the option for anyone to come and be baptized at the end of every service. I have begun volunteering with the children in Sunday school, we attend the young adults mid-week meeting, and I make an earnest effort to be in church every week. I have grown a lot as a person while in this relationship with Sydney, and I have done an even more valuable level of growing as a Christian since attending this church. For a couple of months, now, I had been considering taking our pastor up on his congregational invitation each week, but it never came about for various reasons: after-church plans, illness, etc.. Earlier this week, though, Sydney mentioned that today was the 4-year anniversary of the day that SHE was baptized (same church, but by the youth group leader in the ocean). I took the hint and decided that this was my time.
I’ve been a Christian since I was young. I firmly believe that the only requirement of salvation is faith — we are all imperfect sinners, saved by nothing but the grace of God. No ceremonial act of mine is necessary, and thus I have gone throughout my life as an unbaptized Christian. This always sat heavy on my heart, though, because what I DO believe baptism to be is a public profession of the faith I carry internally. By the time I was of an age to properly make this decision on my own, I was no longer in a church I could call home. I had nobody to profess my faith TO. As I have grown closer to the members of this church, though, I have now found a family to whom I thought it very meaningful to have this moment with.
As to the actual ceremony, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I have witnessed many baptisms at this church, and so I was familiar with the white robes and how the ceremony plays out, but there were some simple logistics I wasn’t sure of. Namely, was I going to wear my clothes under that robe? I slyly sneaked an extra pair of pants and socks into my car’s trunk this morning, as Sydney had stayed the night in our guest room and I was going to surprise her with my plan for the afternoon. At the close of today’s service, I kissed her on the cheek and said, “I’ll be back.” As I headed to the front of the sanctuary, she later told me that she assumed I was simply grabbing a tissue from the front row. Then I shook hands with one of the elders who was standing up front with our pastor, and she knew something was up. I was nervous… a little shaky, not because I was afraid or because I felt unsure, but because I was excited. After so many years, I was in a place to finally perform this act and it was very special to me. To have this pastor perform it, when God has spoken to me a great deal through him. To have it be at this church, when I’d spent so many years winding and turning in my Christian life to finally land here. To have it be on the same day, 4 years later, as the woman I love, who not only brought me to this church but has made my life exponentially better each day that she’s in it.
And then that was it. Pastor Mike is a fairly dry guy, nice and inviting but also pretty calm. It was no secret how over-joyed he was to be able to perform this ceremony yet again as we spoke in the hall before walking out to the tub of water. He’s done this over 1,000 times at this church, now, and yet I get the sense that he is just as excited every time. I had no sense of where Sydney was when we went out there, but my very smart gal had made her way over to the side to get a clean shot to record it for me. I am very glad she did, because I can now share that here, as well!
Baptism, again, is not something I consider a requirement of the Christian faith, but I am filled with joy to have finally done this — in front of my new church family, the woman I love, and most importantly, God. I’m not sure if it comes through in the video, but I was smiling as I stood there… a simple moment with my Father, enjoying that He had led me to a place (physically and emotionally) where I was finally able to profess my faith in this way…
P.S. – For those wondering, they provide freshly washed underwear to wear under the robe. And now we know 🙂 .