Some Thoughts on Baptism...

I had the privilege to serve at a Baptism in the later part of last year, just before Nativity (Christmas). It was a conditional baptism for the sake of a person who , because of Soviet oppression and the resulting incomplete record keeping for such things, desired the comfort and surety of knowing for certain that this was done.

As an aside I suspect that as more of these good people from the former Societ bloc come to our shores, people who have no recollection of baptism other then whispered tales of grandmothers sneaking them into churches in the dead of night or faithful visiting clergy smuggled into homes, we will see more of this practice, those words "If you have not already been baptized..." And we as Priests should be ready for them.

And while the details of the circumstances change I remain in complete and utter awe about the holy things that God in mercy allows to happen through my hands. This isn't about the normal required humility of Priests because it is both real and transcends language at the same time. I cannot believe that God would allow these amazing and holy things, this transaction from death to eternal life, happen in my presence let alone, as it were, through me.

I stumble in the words. I have to focus very clearly to make sure everything which needs to be said is spoken and all that is required is done as it should be and even then I'm sure I've made a mistake somewhere. On top of that I know enough of myself to know that all of this happens despite me, not because of me. I could probably write a list without much effort of a hundred sets of hands that are more clearly suited for this work, any number of people for whom the "axios" is more certain and sure. There should be a rope always tied, as it was for the Jewish Priests, about my ankle to remove me from the altar in the case of my demise before heavenly things.

And yet by grace I have survived and so have the people I have baptized and God finds a way to do His great work in it all. What more can be said? As messed up as I can be, and believe me it can get bad, I am allowed to do what angels cannot and hold holy fire in my hand without being consumed.

I do not understand and perhaps I never will. I just do what needs to be done.

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