Thursday, February 25, 2016

Day 14: Thursday: God wanted me to experience this

I was christened in Tewantin, Queensland, at six weeks. My very aged grandparents on my Mum’s side of family and another great Aunt from my Dad's family came from Melbourne. This would have been a big undertaking in 1948/49. Despite the fact I was a baby when it occurred, I always understood that this was a significant event for me.
    At 17, just before I went into nursing, I was confirmed in the Methodist Church at Kalorama. Confirmation was something I willing underwent knowing that I was publicly committing my life to being a follower of God, in other words, a Christian. I do not remember much about the service other than that I had passed a milestone or another significant step in my life.
    A few years later, I was attending Melbourne Bible Institute and many discussions were held with friends about baptism by full immersion. I started to feel that, in the eyes of my friends who had been fully immersed, my very powerful experience of confirmation was not enough. This was made clear one evening when we attended a Baptist Church: the minister at that time went a step further saying that, if you were not baptised, your faith and Christianity was questionable. I was quietly incensed and did not agree.
    By 1974 I was attending South Yarra Community Baptist with Paul. We married there in 1975. We were very active in all things at South Yarra, and ran the very famous “Club 12”, an all-age Sunday School program.
    Soon after we were married, the minister of the day came to do a pastoral visit with me, and he and Paul discussed with me the need for me to consider undergoing baptism. The reason cited by the minister that was that I was a teacher in a Baptist church Sunday School, and so I should be baptised. That delayed things for a while, as I naturally was not happy about this. But I continued teaching and everything else I was doing at South Yarra.
    But as God does these things, the quiet realisation came to me that it was something I needed to do. It was not because of what any human or spiritual guru thought, but God wanted me to experience this. I, a committed God loving woman who had publicly declared my faith, was being gently being made aware that God required me to do this, too.
    So I was baptised in a swimming pool in the left hand corner at the kitchen end of the hall. The water was warm! It was a great day and service. None of my family there but Paul's Mum and Dad and Joy his sister in law and her children and all of the Club 12 family. My only fear on the day was that I might pass out if I was dunked backwards, so we arranged to go forward.
    Interestingly, Mum, who had once talked about us as being christened or sprinkled, began to refer to the ceremony performed when I was an infant as a baptism service. When I and Gayle my sister became involved in Baptist life, this did not help my confusion between confirmation and baptism.

Was baptism something you actively sought, or did you have a sense of being drawn to it? What experience is God inviting you into now? Spend some time reflecting on the invitation that lies before you at this time.

Reflection by Merryl Gahan, South Yarra Community Baptist Church, 19 January 2016.

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