One year ago today, I was baptized at the Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC. I thought about this anniversary all day yesterday — I can’t quite decide whether I should commemorate the anniversary as the third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy, each year, or whether I should stick to the actual date, which is today, December 13. Perhaps I shall just commemorate both from now on, as it is a choice and a date that I will choose to celebrate and remember all my life long.
If you want to read again or for the first time about my experience of baptism, you can do so here. But right now I’m going to talk about the experience of living after my baptism.
Let me preface my comments by stating: even at the time of my baptism, you could hardly have called me a new Christian. Churches, faith, and God have been central to my life in one way or another since I was 5 years old. Even during the years that I swore that I was “done” with church, even in the brief years when my doubts outweighed the power of my belief, even then I was still singing in a church, so, well, churches, faith and God have been central to my life in one way or another since I was 5 years old.
A year later, though, I still know that despite my church resume (or perhaps because of it), being baptized in this time and this place and this community was the calling of God on my heart.
I’m sure that a lot of people who make a decision such as this expect stepping into the water and committing their lives to the following of the One Lord will bring them peace and contentment and prosperity. And, it does, but not necessarily in the worldly definition of those words. But what it most brought to me was a sense of committment, a sense that I must strive each day to, as the song says “Give of my (your) best to the Master”. What does that mean to me? It means to live with deep intention, with respect to the world and the people around me, and to strive always to act in love and kindness.
Would I be that kind of a person if I hadn’t been baptized a year ago? Quite possibly, since living in this manner has always been important to me. But what that baptism did for me was simple: it washed away the haze of magical thinking, and made clear the work of living that lay before me. It turned up the volume, so to speak. And, it showed me that, no matter what worldly failings the people in my life might from time to time exhibit, that in the matters of Spirit, we are one in community, and that we are never alone.
And so, on this day, I say, thank you to all who witnessed and participated in my baptism. I feel its power still.