Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
“Oh, Preacher; Oh my…I just don’t know.”
Thus began the conversation between myself and the dear lady who had belonged to the church going on four hundred years. It seems I have a habit of provoking such conversations; it’s either the way I part my hair or where and when I was born.
July was my first month in that church, and VBS was planned for the first week of August. I took time to acquaint myself with the mobile home park across the street from the church. Many of the children responded to attend, and they descended on the facilities like a swarm of Cool Aid-thirsty locusts from 6:30-8pm each night. We fed them cookies and sugar-sweet red punch; talk about poking the ADHD button! They bounced off the walls and had a blast!
At the end of the week some 14 children made a profession of faith. True to that church’s tradition, we scheduled a lengthy baptism service for Sunday morning.
One by one the children marched down the steps into the baptistery. In dry and wide-eyed; out wet and smiling – this was a happy day when Jesus washed the sins away!
And then…the conversation!
“What don’t you know about, Mable?”
“Preacher…I just don’t know.”
I assumed Mable was having a senior moment and could not keep a train of thought going. (In retrospect, I wish it had been that).
“Are you alright?”
“Preacher, (she gained traction), we just have never….I mean, NEVER had any (whispered with eyes darting, Mable started to spell), B – L – A – C – K people in our baptistery. NEVER! Oh, Preacher…what ARE we going to do? We’ve NEVER!
When I stopped choking I finally answered, Well, Mrs. Mable, I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I’m going to go eat some cake in the Fellowship Hall with all those children we just baptized.
(That’s when her jaw REALLY dropped)!
OH, my STARS, Preacher…the Fellowship Hall too?
Hindsight is Always Better
As I look back on that day, I realize my sarcastic nature had kicked-in and I probably missed a very teachable moment with the dear lady.
I’m not certain she would have taken kindly to my thoughts on “inter-racial sharing of the baptism pool” – but I didn’t even try. And for the next six years we butted heads regularly.
I guess some baptism memories and lessons aren’t as funny as others.
For You, Today…
To what do you hold firmly?
And, if the Lord said, I want that for my Kingdom…would you let it go?