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The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston

The Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston is senior pastor of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York, NY.

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Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, NY


Dr. Scott Black Johnston: Baptism--Do You Remember?

September 24, 2010

In some churches, baptism looks likes this:

The person to be baptized approaches the font, the minister dips her hands into the water and speaks the ancient words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Then she says, "Sally, welcome into the church of Jesus Christ-the family of God."

But the ceremony is not over yet.

Looking out at the congregation, the pastor puts both of her hands back into the stone bowl, and with a quick motion, lifts her arms.  Splattering the nearest members of the congregation with water, she booms, "Remember your baptism!"

Remember your baptism?

It is a funny phrase.  Isn't it?  After all, many of us who were baptized as infants cannot remember the details of our dousing.  All that we have to mark the day is a certificate tucked into a baby book or a tiny gown neatly folded at the bottom of a chest.

Still, we may know a bit more than that.

We know where it happened... at a little Baptist Church in Alabama, in a cathedral in Germany, down by a river in Kenya.

Or perhaps we know who did it... an uncle who became a priest, a one-eyed preacher from Wisconsin, a family friend.  We probably know whether it was a sprinkling or a full dunking.

So, I am curious this morning; as I am working (full disclosure) on a sermon entitled, "Wash."

What do you remember about your baptism? Would you please share a story?

What happened the day that you were welcomed into the church of Jesus Christ?

Or perhaps, in lieu of that, you could describe a baptism that you found meaningful.  Is there one you have witnessed that made you think, "There is something holy here.  There is grace in this water."

Maybe there is a better way to ask the question...

Have you ever been watching a baptism and thought, "I was once doused by these waters too?"

After all, "Remember your baptism" could simply be a fancy way of saying, "Remember that you too have passed through the clear waters.  You too have been claimed in them.  You too are beloved of God."

[Taken with permission from Scott Black Johnston's blog, "Sharp About Your Prayers." Originally posted Sept. 21, 2010] 


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