Tuesday night at work

Not the most standard of times, but I’m sitting at my work computer, yup on the other side of the city from where I live, on a Tuesday night. There are candles and flowers and wine and people upstairs praying. I’m wasting time for 45 minutes after a slightly slow afternoon at uni looking at research methods, attempting to bash out what my group is doing to present our research on the very vauge ‘Virtual’ and a nice coffee with new uni friends, Jo and Kellie.

Tonight Shannon, with whom I share an office with, is getting baptised. Baptised perhaps a little unconventionally, I’m not sure quite how much so. Thus far, we are in an office building, albeit a very nice office building and not a church, she is not getting ‘dunked’ so to speak, has only invited a small group of people who have been influential on the journey (wow somehow I scored), and to top it all off, especially for you conservative crew, the service or whatever you want to call it will be done by a woman. *Ahhh Oh my, You can’t do that!*

I was baptised back in 2001 at the same time as my sisters by my Dad in a church I no longer attend. I’m pretty sure it was a little bit of, ‘Oh my sisters are doing it, I’ll do it now too because that’s a bit less scary’. I didn’t share a testimony because I was a wuss. I did get dunked (and foolishly wore jeans). It was a fairly traditional baptism by Protestant standards. Do I regret doing it at a time when sure but still influenced predominantly by the convictions of those close… I don’t quite know?

Then there was the brief conversation I had with a spray painter (cars) randomly on the train this evening. I was carrying flowers and he asked me if they’d been given to me. I explained briefly.

“Oh, a baptism not in a church. That’s different. How old is your friend?”

“Twenty four”

“Wow that’s old to be getting baptised.”

He then went on to tell me how his kids were baptised as babies, “No choice” and, “Later they can work it out”.

So. How many conventions can you break? Are we so legalistic that we consider things less authentic when we steer from tradition? The decision and the declaration and the commitment count, what about the medium, the method, how things play out? What matters most in a baptism? Do you need water?

4 Comments

  1. Dawn said:

    24 isnt too old to be baptized. and i know of people who were baptized in a lake near town, anyway jesus wasnt baptized in a church!

    August 21, 2007
    Reply
  2. said:

    Bec, my experience is probably similar to yours – I grew up in the Anglican church and I got confirmed at…oh, 13 or 14? I can’t remember. I do remember that I did it with my sister and our best friend, and our mother’s made us wait for a year because they were worried we were doing it for fun and peer pressure rather than the “right” reasons.

    I don’t think I fully appreciated the significance of what I was doing, but that’s life…the older you get, the more you understand things. I do know that I got a lot out of confirmation classes – learning the creeds, church history, the meaning of baptism, discussions about everything from sex to money…

    Years later I started to move in more conservative circles, and pentecostal ones at that, and I was under a lot of pressure to have a “real” Baptism. I held out – I think that full immersion as an adult is “the best” from a theological perspective, but I don’t think that it invalidates a baptism that doesn’t involve full immersion. I’d made my decision and public declaration at 13, I knew what it meant (as much as a 13 year old can) – I don’t think that the lack of full immersion, or the fact that it was called a “confirmation” mattered TOO much.

    So I held out. At some point, however, something inside me switched. I really, really wanted to get baptised as an adult, and even 8+ years later I can’t tell you why. I just really wanted to, and I was convinced than and am convinced now that it was the Spirit talking to me. I can’t justify that in theological terms, but I do believe that sometimes we just have to do the things we’re told to do – especially if there’s no obvious harmful ramifications, and in this case there clearly weren’t.

    That’s a long way of saying – I think that the medium matters to a degree, but not so much that our baptism is somehow “invalid” if we don’t use the “proper” medium. I also firmly believe that people should not judge how others have been baptised, and I resent churches that won’t allow people into membership because they haven’t been baptised the “proper” way. In some senses I feel lucky that I had a “second baptism” that is recognised by the Baptist church – since I now attend Baptist rather than Anglican churches, I sometimes wonder whether the Holy Spirit was helping me out by removing a potential obstacle to my membership of such churches!! I sure couldn’t have got baptised purely so that I could be a member of a Baptist church – to me, that cheapens not only my confirmation, but the meaning of a subsequent baptism.

    Sorry for the ramble!!

    August 22, 2007
    Reply
  3. said:

    Oh – re: the issue of “meaning” and appropriate ages – we’ve just celebrated our 6 month of marriage, and I assure you that the wedding ceremony would mean even more to me now than it did in February…and I hope that I can say the same in not only another 6 months, but in another 60 years!

    If we don’t look back and feel that, then I think it suggests that our understanding and relationships (with God, with each other) haven’t grown as much as they should have.

    August 22, 2007
    Reply

Leave a Reply to bec

Your email address will not be published.