Monday, January 10, 2011

the baptism

This past Sunday (yesterday, the day that I did not blog, SORRY. do you forgive me?) was the celebration/remembrance of Jesus' baptism in the Christian tradition. It would have been good to go to church to be there for that, but we didn't make it. Nap time and church time are the same time (still!) and most Sundays we just can't miss nap time.
But I digress.
It would have been good to go to church to remember Jesus' baptism because we just baptized our little one on the Sunday after Christmas. It would have been good to stop and reflect again on that most sacred of moments when God said to Jesus, "You are good." It would have been good to hear that and remember when that was said about us.
I heard myself describing Cordelia's baptism to a dear friend the other day... and I left out some of my favorite parts! So, I think its important to recount it here and to therefore preserve the memory.
Doug and I talked about baptism almost from the moment that Cordelia was born. Since I am an ordained minister who is not currently serving a congregation, and Doug and I did not grow up in the same Christian tradition, the question of where to go to church (let alone where to baptize a child) is not too simple. We agreed that we wanted to baptize our child as a baby but were left with questions about where. It was starting to look like we might not get the question resolved while she was a child. That is, until we thought of my home church and our trip there for Christmas. After conversing with family, church and each other, it was decided! Baptism at home. Here are a few "snapshots" that help me to remember the day.
  • Cordelia was given a pair of patent-leather, RED shoes for Christmas by her Aunt Allison. I had her wear these for her baptism in celebration of the Holy Spirit and for good fashion as well.
  • Cordelia was too small for the dress my mom purchased for her. With a little sparkle in her eyes, my mom went to get the baptismal dress that I wore. I was only 3 months at my baptism (on the Sunday after Christmas!) and I was very tiny so we didn't think it likely to fit. We tried it on and the gown fit Cordelia like it was made for her. It truly felt like a miracle. We both cried as we watched her in the big mirror in the hall.
  • Worshipping on Christmas Eve helped me get ready for the baptism. I got teary a few times singing about the baby that we all longed for, his arrival and the rejoicing over all of it. I knew exactly what those hymns meant. Last year I felt Advent in a new way - this year it was Christmas.
  • Everything, every single thing, felt right.
  • When we went forward for the time of baptism, I felt joy nearly overcome me.
  • As I looked out on the congregation, it was difficult to hold all the different feelings I was having.
  • I was confirmed, ordained, and baptized my baby on the same steps. Wow.
  • I held Cordelia next to Doug while the pastor read the words and prayed the prayers. Cordelia seemed to love this part. She "talked" all through this time and made elaborate hand gestures. It looked like Cordelia was interpreting the words into baby language, much like a sign interpreter would do for the deaf. Afterwards, people said that she preached her first sermon. Ha!
  • I tried to hand her to the pastor for the actual baptism, but Cordelia cried immediately and we had decided ahead of time that if this happened, I would hold her and he would sprinkle her.
  • When we took Cordelia into the congregation to meet her new family, she grinned her biggest baby grin and talked and flapped her arms.
  • During the pastor's fantastic sermon, Cordelia and I entertained ourselves in the back of the sanctuary where we could move about freely. She jabbered away, preaching her baby sermon the whole time. It was beautiful.
  • After the worship, we spent time talking with the congregation. What a joy to have an intimate group to visit with. Cordelia fell asleep (it was past her nap time) laying her head against me.
  • When we got home, my mom and I took her picture in the gown a few more times. Cordelia seemed proud of her self, like she knew how beautiful and loved she is.
  • That night, when I put her down to bed, I told her that I loved her (like I always do) and that God loved her. I held her an extra long time and I felt the tears of joy in my eyes.
I have always told people (when baptizing a child) that the rituals we do are redundant. God has already blessed, chosen and loved the child. I still believe that this is true. But now I understand how it changes a parent to give their child away into the arms of God and into the arms of the Church. It is one of the first acts of letting go, of giving them something to build their lives upon, and of loving. God has already blessed Cordelia, but now we have done our best to imitate that blessing. With any hope, we will continue to imitate God's love to the fullest.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this with us. It brought chills to me to hear of Cordelia's baptism through your eyes. It caused me to think about the baptism of my own girls. You are blessed, thank you for blessing us!

521design said...

you, dear friend, are a wise and wonderful woman...mother...minister.