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A Unique Baptismal Experience

I've started reading the Rev. Dr. John H. Westerhoff's booklet, Holy Baptism: A Guide for Parents & Godparents.  In it, he relates an experience he had witnessing a different kind, or liturgy, of Baptism which I want to capture here and share with you, those of you who might still read this blog these days.  Writing it down will likely even more forge this into my mind and write it in my heart, for it is a powerful depiction of what we do in Baptism:

Dr. Westerhoff shares, "I was in Argentina and went to worship one Sunday in a small parish church outside Buenos Aires.  As I walked in, a bit late, I witnessed a congregation on its knees singing a Good Friday hymn.

Down the aisle came a father carrying a handmade child's coffin.  His wife carried a pail of water from the family well. Behind them came the godparents carrying a naked baby in a serape.  With tears in his eyes, the father put the coffin on the altar, the mother poured in the water, and the godparents handed the child over to the priest.

As the priest asked the parents and god parents the required questions, he put the oil used in the last rites of the church on the child's skin.  He took the baby and, holding its nose, immersed the child in the coffin with the words, "You are drowned in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."  As he raised the child out of the water the child cried out as he probably had when he emerged from his mother's womb at his first birth.

The priest held up the child and exclaimed, "And you are resurrected that you might love and serve the Lord."  The congregation leaped up and began to sing an Easter hymn.  The priest poured a perfumed oil over the child and as he signed the baby with the cross said, "I now brand you, as we do cattle on the range, with the sign of the cross, so that the world will always know and you will never be able to deny to whom you belong."  The congregation broke into applause and came forward to offer the child the kiss of peace with the words, "Welcome Juan Carlos Christiana."  No longer was the child to be known as Juan Carlos Renosa.  He had been adopted by and brought to life in a new family, the family called Christian.  That was a baptism I will always remember."

WOW!  In the Episcopal Church, we hope it is understood our liturgies represent as the drama and meaning of our faith in and following of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I wonder what our churches in America would do if we brought this particular depiction of the drama of Baptism into our parishes to our altars for God's people.  WOW!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 29th, 2013 01:30 pm (UTC)
Wait...so if the kid wasn't dead, why was the father crying?
Jan. 30th, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC)
It can be a very emotional moment when you give your own life, or a life you are responsible for, over to God. I think they were one part fear & trepidation and another part joy & mystery. Not a bad thing, Shans.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )