Confirmation & Baptism

While in NYC last week I started reading Rachel Held Evans' forthcoming book Searching for Sunday. I ran across this part and it resonated with me so deeply: 

"At times I've tried to wring the waters of my first baptism out of my clothes, shake them out of my hair, and ask for a do-over in some other community where they ordain women, vote for Democrats, and believe in evolution. But Jesus has this odd habit of allowing ordinary, screwed up people to introduce him, and so it was ordinary, screwed up people who first told me I was a beloved child of God, who first called me a Christian. I don't know where my faith will take me, but it will always begin here. That much can never change." 

I have some really sweet memories of being a Jesus-loving, church kid, but I also some that weren't so sweet. As I've pondered my faith journey, I've been filled with joy and a tad of frustration. There are so many things I wish I could have gone back and changed. There are things I wish I hadn't said and done. Nonetheless, all of those things are a part of my story. My initial decision to follow Jesus and my baptism-- those are things that can't be altered. They just are. 

Today I reaffirmed my commitment to Jesus and was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. In the days leading up to confirmation, I learned more about the event in and of itself. This whole process of becoming confirmed requires a Bishop's visit. During the service those who are going to be confirmed will recite a few commitments together and then they'll walk up one by one to receive prayer. 

The bishop will then lay his or her hands on the confirmant's head, and pray these words: 

"Strengthen, O Lord, your servant (name). With your Holy Spirit; empower (him/her) for your service; and sustain (him/her) all the days of (his/her) life. Amen."

I dawned on me about halfway through the week that I couldn't become an Episcopal on my own. Someone has to drive from miles and miles away, press his heads on my head, and pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to fill me. Nor could I baptize myself. Someone had to do that for me too. This was a big deal for me since I'm relatively independent in nature.

While walking this week to the library to print a couple of papers, I was thinking about confirmation. I thought about my journey as a whole and my first baptism. When I lifted my key card up to the library door I locked eyes with the security guard, who just so happened to be the one who once stood waiting for me on the other side of the baptistery with a boat paddle (don't ask why) and a towel.

Weeks earlier at a summer camp it was his wife who knelt on the cold tile floor next to the leaky water fountain at a baptist conference center. It was her who's eyes began to fill with tears as I confessed to her that I wanted to follow Jesus. It was her who held my hands and helped me through a prayer asking Jesus to be the Lord of my life.

Then there was my youth pastor, the one who held his hands over my nose and under my back as he dunked me under the water after telling an embarrassing story, and declaring "I baptize you, my sister, Lindsey, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

My baptist church first called me a Christian. They introduced me to Jesus. Nothing will ever change that. I can't change that. I wouldn't change that, even though I sometimes wish I had been born into a more theologically progressive church. 

Today the Episcopal Church made me one of their own by the laying on of hands and the sprinkling of baptismal water. After saying the declarations and receiving prayer from our bishop, my priest stood in front of me and said "I'm going to get you good." She then dipped the branch into the water and flicked it in my direction. I had drops of water all over my face for about 10 minutes, but refused to wipe them off. I wanted to feel them. 

This whole journey has reduced me to tears. I've realized that can't do any of this on my own. I'm just along for the ride. Though I've had a fair share of moments where I just wanted to throw in the towel on the Church, it's been the Church that has made me her own, brought me dinner, taken me on the journey of a lifetime, laid her hands on me, and given me a safe place in her arms when I no longer felt I was welcome.

Guess I'll be sticking around for a while.

LGH