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Time for Some Funny Stories
I teach biblical and world religions classes, but my main area is church history. One thing about church history, or history for that matter, is that people enjoy hearing about it but most people hate to study it. So I have developed the technique of telling lots of relevant stories to help capture studentsí interest. In this column I will share two of those stories about baptism: I experienced one of them, and the other one is about an interview my friend had.
So, my wife and I skipped church one Sunday and drove up into the mountains. (OK it is out, I have confessed my sin.) We were on a windy road out in the middle of nowhere and driving beside a large pasture with a creek running through the middle of it. It was around noon and we noticed a lot of people out by the creek, about twenty-five or thirty. All of a sudden the thought popped into my head and I yelled, "They are going to baptize someone!" We noticed a number of cars parked by the side of the road, so we parked our car and hurried out to where the people were standing on the bank of the creek. Sure enough, it was a baptism. Out in the water stood two short pastors who looked to be in their 70s; the water was almost chest-high on them.
The church members stood on the bank, along with the three people to be baptized, two women and Goliath. And when I say Goliath, I mean this guy was tall and muscular; he must have been over six feet tall. Well, the first woman goes out into the middle of the creek and stands between the two pastors. Now, I have seen people go through immersion baptism before, but I had only seen one pastor involved. Here there were two, but I guessed it was due to their age and the swiftly-moving water. Anyway, so both the pastors put their hands behind her head and she is lowered backwards into the water. Then the pastors lift her up out of the water and it is finished. The next woman goes out and is baptized in the same way. Then it is Goliathís turn.
He wades out to the pastors and stands between them. As he stands there, I see that he is about a foot taller than the pastors and I think, "This is going to be interesting." Well, they reach up and hold his head from behind and then he goes back into the water. That was the easy part, but now they have to get him up. As they are both struggling to raise him up, somebody yells from the shore: "He didnít go all the way down!" I am sure both pastors thought, "Drat," but what could they do? They lowered him back into the water and then brought him back up.
My friend told me this one. (I will have to put the priestís words in my own words.) He had to interview an Orthodox priest as part of his class work at seminary, and during the interview the topic of baptism came up. The Orthodox priest said something like, "I hate baptismal Sundays. People start lining up at five in the morning and fight to be first." My friend was surprised, thinking that this should be a special and joyous Sunday. "You donít understand," the priest said, "because you practice believer's baptism. In our church we baptism infants, we do it by immersion, and we do it three times, for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." So think about it. What happens to a baby if you stick it in cool water, and do it three times? It will cry, but what else? It will wee-wee! And the priest said that they do not change the water during the ceremony. So if your kid is going up for baptism at that church, and so are five other kids, you would find yourself at church at five in the morning on baptism Sunday and fighting for the first spot also!
©2007 Mark Nickens
Questions/comments contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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