Pastor David preached, Sunday, from Acts 2:38 and Romans 6. He spoke about what baptism is not (salvation). He also spoke about what baptism is: both an act of obedience and a complex symbol of putting away the old and embracing the new, through the power of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.
Just before, I'd complimented Rodney on his white robe as I'd passed him in the hall. (To be more specific, I'd told him he looked smashing.) And--from my excellent vantage point just to the right of the piano, between fellow choir members Karen and Carter--I'd watched Pastor David lay Rodney back into the water. I'd leapt up to applaud and (after the men had left the baptismal) crossed the sanctuary for Kleenex...
...because I'd beheld Rodney's heartbreakingly sincere expression. I'd seen his breath catch in his throat, just a little, before the moment of submersion.
And I'd remembered.
I'd remembered looking through twelve-year-old eyes, out from under dripping bangs, toward the shore of a pond. I'd remembered the clapping and shouting and singing...the sheer praising...in that moment, my having just risen, baptized, from murky waters.
And it must've been cold, Brother. Sister, it must've been cold, 'cause it was Easter. In a pond. But I don't remember the cold, only the wild-blessed thrill of it all: the soft, inward tapping of...my heart? The Holy Spirit, keeping toe-time with the hymns? I didn't know then and can't say, now; for four years, the two had been in there together, waiting to celebrate my baptism.
I remember the moment of my salvation even more clearly than that of my baptism. I was eight and alone in my bedroom, and I don't know, exactly, how I'd learned what to pray.
I'd been bussed, during school hours, to kind-hearted women wearing Traditional Pleated Minnies.
I remember their shadowy little sanctuary with wooden pews; their pastel cards upon which scripture had been printed, perfectly; their emphasis on the memorization and recitation of Bible verses.
I remember, too, going to various Vacation Bible Schools and church services, mostly under the care of my maternal grandparents.
At any rate, I knew what to pray, and I prayed it, and I felt a change wrought in my heart. I've never doubted my salvation, even during those years of my failing to walk "in newness of life."
Separate moments: that of my salvation, and (some four years later) that of my baptism. Both memorable, precious, powerful, unequivocal. I am so deeply thankful that neither experience can ever be stripped from me.
(Devil must not want this one published because the Internet went down last night; the post went inexplicably deleted for a few minutes; and what is up with the white background and all the seemingly unresolvable spacing issues?)