A Christian baptism, follows an individual’s decision to believe that Jesus Christ died and rose for their sins. There are varying emotions surrounding the baptism of a new brother or sister in Christ. While this is a serious lie changing moment, there may also be joy, tears and even humor surrounding a baptism.
Whenever my grandmother observed, what she considered inappropriate behavior of someone shortly after they were baptized, she would say their baptism did not take. And that the person had gone down a dry devil, and come up a wet devil. When years later I heard a pastor use my grandmother’s phrase, about going down a wet devil, and coming up a dry devil, I laughed so hard, I almost fell from my seat.
In his autobiography, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell told about the first black man to be baptized in his church. Because of segregated churches in the 1960’s, Reverend Falwell anticipated objections. He told the man, “We are both going down, but I don’t know if we will both come up.” Fortunately the baptism went off without a hitch. And Jerry Falwell baptized believers of many ethnicity before his death.
The Sunday following our baptism, my 5 cousins and I stood in the front of the church, where we were given the right hand of fellowship. Every person in the building shook our hands, and some gave us a hug or kiss, as the organist played Leaning on the everlasting arms.
I took note that most every person, my cousins included were crying, except me. I was troubled at not feeling the “Spirit” as everyone else was. At the age of 8, I was terrified that I was not really saved, and asked God to let me know for sure I was really saved because I did not want to go to hell. it took 40 years to get that confirmation.
Decades later, I was a member of a church, where on occasion, adults decided to be baptized a second time, to renew their faith. One day I told my husband that I felt led to do this, so I did. The baptismal pool in this church had a seat. While you were sitting on it, with feet on the floor, only the top half of your body was lowered into the water.
As I was being lifted up, I felt the sweet Presence of the Lord. The pastor let me set for a few moments, and told the congregation that the Spirit was on me. This was such a blessing because of what happened the first time I was baptized.
My first two children’s accepting Christ was identical. Both, at age 5, (born 5 years apart) asked me why they were omitted from the juice and crackers during communion. I told them that those who believe in the virgin birth, crucifixion, Resurrection, and second coming of Christ were baptized and then could take part in communion. Both children told me they already believed, so they were baptized.
After their first communion however, both my son and daughter told me that even though they believed in Jesus, the real reason they wanted to get baptized was so they could drink the wine. They were surprised to find that our church used Welches grape juice. We laugh about it even now.
When my then pastor, tried to lower my third child, (a son) into the baptismal pool he wrapped his legs around the pastor’s waist. This kept the pastor from bending down. He had an awkward look on his face, and we all laughed. He loosened my sons legs, and on the second try my son went under.
Later that night, my son was up until 2:00 a.m. He kept pacing back and forth saying the Holy Ghost was in his feet. He was like this for two more days. We often teased him later, asking if he remembered when the Holy Ghost was in his feet.
A few weeks later, a little girl went forward for salvation, at the end of service. When asked if she believed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, she very boldly and loudly said into the microphone, “No.”! The church was in stitches. Less than a year later however, this little girl did accept Jesus, and was baptized.
I am glad to have these fond memories of various baptisms. I am more thankful that we all have the assurance, that we will spend eternity together in heaven.