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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Baptism: my story, my thoughts and my questions - Part 1

What topic has caused more controversy among the Christian denominations than baptism?  Maybe there are hotter buttons and political issues on the front burner now, but for generations, baptism has been the biggest defining difference that keeps Christians in separate clubhouses on Sunday morning.

I want to share my story, my thoughts and my questions in this blog.... but it may take a few postings for the whole topic.  So on this post... I want to share my story.

I was raised Lutheran.  So when I was a month old, my parents baptized me according to Lutheran tradition.  I had three people that stood up with my parents in church that day.  So technically I have three godparents.  One of my godparents is a female pastor, and over the years she has been a spiritual guide in my life and a very special influence.  My other godparents are my aunt and uncle.  Their relationship with their creator and with me is a little strained right now, but the fact that they wanted to be my godparents when I was a baby,  still gives them a special place in my heart.

I don't remember that day at all.  I have a picture of my mom holding me.  I was wearing a little white dress.  Yet according to Lutheran tradition, something spiritually significant happened to me that day.

When I was 13, I started what Lutherans call confirmation.  Another word for Confirmation is "Affirmation of Baptism".  Because the majority of Lutheran children are baptized around a month of age, they have no training or knowledge as to what happened that day.  So around the age of 12 or 13, the child is enrolled in confirmation.  It is a two year program usually a couple of hours after school,  once a week, where the child learns about the traditions of the Lutheran Church. I was confirmed in Camrose in 1983.  That was thirty years ago.

When my denominational journey took me outside of the Lutheran world, I began to ask questions regarding baptism and its place in my faith life.  I remember having a conversation with my Baptist pastor in Olds during my second year of college (1991) about baptism.  That is when it started to get foggy for me.  Up until then I was fine in the faith that my parents raised me in.  It was my second year of college where I dared to attend a church that wasn't Lutheran or Mennonite.  All I seem to remember was the cold feeling I had when I went to the Lutheran church in Olds in my first year.  The building was made of cement blocks.  Maybe that had something to do with it.

It would be years before I would choose adult water baptism at First Assembly in Calgary.  I wish I had catalogued the journey back then.  Even today I can't say for certain if I was dissappointed, disillusioned or just bored with the faith that my parents had taught me.  My journey just took me to a different place.

I remember the phone call I made to my parents that day.  I called to inform them of my up and coming baptism.  There was a pause on the end of the line.  Mom was the one who spoke.

"God be with you." she said.

 I figured my choice to be baptized would be the hardest on my mother.  My Oma was a Mennonite and my dad was raised Mennonite and converted to the Lutheran denomination before he got married. Mennonites practice adult water baptism.   But my mom was born, raised and cemented in her Lutheran doctrine.  My parents and my Oma came to witness my water baptism.  I prayed for the chance that my family could come and be there with me.  It was February 25, 1996.

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