I became a Christian many years ago, when God wrapped me in His Grace and stole me away from a harmful reality of the Soviet Union and my own ignorant heart. I did everything I had to do to become a Christian: prayed and kept praying for Heavenly Father and Jesus to come into my life to save me.
A few months ago it hit me: I did everything, but one thing. I didn't get baptized! It never entered my mind, because for more than thirty years I was in the Unification Church, and members there get baptized only during the "Blessing" - a marriage ceremony, when the Rev. and Mrs. Moon, with the royal crowns on their heads, sprinkle their faithful followers with "holy water", as couple by couple walks past them.
So, I was baptized, you'll say! No, being sprinkled by a false messiah in a false ceremony is not the same as proclaiming that one dies to sin, is buried in water and rises again as a NEW CREATION of God!
A year ago this would be unthinkable! I am not that much into rituals. Many things in the Bible I understand and yet consider to be symbolic rather than literal. Perhaps, the polite little sprinkling by water is enough to cleanse me of my sins and declare myself as a follower of Jesus?
Where I go in the Creekside Community Church, they don't sprinkle. In front of the whole congregation they dunk people in!
It might've been easier, if I wasn't this plump and lame and awkward! Hiding my figure and keeping "decorum" was paramount for me for most of my life!
The weeks before the baptism I often mentally cringed, imagining how I'll be climbing into a tub, - perhaps not being able to surmount its walls. What if the people aiding me in water will not be able to support my bulk? Will I slip and fall, drenching the front pews with water? How will I look, emerging from the tub: wet, in clothes clinging to my body, all the unsightly bulges revealed now?!
Regardless of these thoughts, I stayed strong and looked forward to the day, when I'll be able to make a new step in my life of faith.
Then the day arrived. One other acquaintance from the local Unification Church was going to be baptized as well, so I felt a little easier. I told Sonny about my plans, and he said, he wanted to come and support me, but closer to the date he realized, he had to work. I was disappointed, but - hey, what can you do, right?
The Sunday morning went in a blur. I made breakfast for Roberta and myself, gathered the clothes I'd be changing into after coming out of the water, and off we went.
Many a time I wound myself up, expecting some great new change in my life, and then, almost invariably, something went wrong, and I crashed and burned. I tried to keep an even keel, therefore: nervous, hopeful, but cautious of unrealistic expectations.
We drove up early to the church, I helped Roberta out of the car, went to get the bag with my clothes and... it wasn't there!
I must've put the bag down for a moment somewhere in the house and forgot to pick it up again! Like bees, the thoughts of failure and plans, how I can save the situation, began to swarm through my mind.
It was no use: there was no time to go back to retrieve the bag. I coulnd't stay in my wet clothes after the ceremony. My baptism had to be postponed!
Just as I was about to buckle under, the church's pastor came into view. I met him only once, but I didn't hesitate and told him about my predicament. He assured me that, the baptism was not going to start until after the service, so I had plenty of time to go, get the clothes.
I talked Roberta into staying at the church, rather than going with me. Left to my own thoughts, I carefully drove back to the house, got the bag and went back, praying all the while and singing Amazing Grace - my default place in times of the upheavals!
All went well. I came back in time. The people, who were going to be baptized, got ready and lined up in the sanctuary's corner. A big round tub with steps, leading into it, was erected by the stage. The pastor and one other man stood in the tub. One by one the hopeful new Christians climbed in. They answered questions, affirming their faith in Jesus, and then crouched down, holding their arms in front of their chests, as the pastor and the aid dunked them backwards into the water.
"Don't think, Dina, don't think!" It was my turn. I waddled up the stairs, swung my stubby leg over the lip of the tub, realized, it was not as difficult, as I imagined, and climbed into the water. Then I answered the questions, crouched down. I couldn't go backwards easily from that position though, so, as I felt being pushed under, I turned a little to the side. That was it! I was up, sopping wet, but immensely happy, nevertheless!
|Yes, that IS Donald Trump, being awkward at the end of the|
bench. And - NO - this is not taken at my baptism!
When I returned to the sanctuary and found Roberta, Sonny was sitting next to her. That was a gift beyond anything I could expect!
It wasn't easy for me to tell Taka about getting baptized. He grudgingly accepts me not participating in the Unification Church activities and going to another church's Sunday Service. I was going to keep it a secret.
It didn't work that way. He asked me, where I was and what I was doing. In fright I closed my eyes and told him.
"Hmm" - he said. Then added: he was baptized several times, while visiting Christian churches during his ecumenical work. One day soon I'll have to clearly explain to him the real value of the baptism!