Sunday, July 10, 2011
My Bizarre Baptism
de-baptism ceremony to dry away the sin of being born again. Some say that de-baptism is like being born again, again. When I think back to my own baptism I always smile because for me the process was a bit unusual.
All went well until I got a call from the priest on Friday, two days before my scheduled confirmation ceremony. He gave me no further information other than I should meet him at the church the next day. He needed to talk to me alone urgently. This was a worry. For one thing it would mean missing part of the West Indies versus Pakistan cricket test match which was at an interesting stage. But ,more importantly, what could he possibly need to see me about? A request by your priest to see you urgently is only marginally second to a similar calling from your school principal.
So, as you can imagine, it was a nerve racking night. What had I done or left undone? As far as I knew I had followed all the pre-confirmation rules and had completed a successful year of training. I even went through the trouble of making up a plausible story about how I betrayed a friend's trust, so that I could have a "confession." I was so sure I had all the bases covered. What on earth could he want to talk to me about at this 11th hour?
When I arrived at the church office , the priest was holding my baptismal certificate. We were required to provide these before we were confirmed. It was just a formality, or at least so I thought. The 'father' shook his head sadly. "This is not a baptismal certificate." he said coldly. " This only shows that you were christened. A christening is NOT a baptism. As far as we ( the Anglican church) are concerned the ceremony you had was simply to give you your name. To be recognised by us you have to be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You have not gone through that and therefore cannot be presented for confirmation based on this."
My mouth dropped open. What was he talking about? Christening , baptism, po-TAY-to, po-TAT-to what difference did these words make? I, for obvious reasons, don't quite remember the details of that B-day in question, but I had enough faith that my parents would have had me baptised properly. Surely it was just a misunderstanding. A frivolous objection like the , "He's not an American" tirade that Barack Obama has had to fight. It was true that I was not baptised Anglican or Catholic but I wasn't initiated by some fringe cult group. It was the " Church of God" for God's sake, an established denomination in Barbados. But my priest would have none of it, what he held in his hand was not a bona fide baptismal certificate. I was up a creek.
How could I face my colleagues on Sunday? After a year of dutifully attending classes I had fallen tragically at this last hurdle. Then, out of the blue my pastor hit on something. A smirk came to his face. I had no idea what there was to be happy about but I certainly hoped it would be some sort of resolution in my favour. He took up a wooden bowl that was lying around and sent me to the kitchen, with the simple instruction to fill it up to the brim. So, I went and did likewise.