Monday, May 10, 2010

Baptism

"As surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul's impurity, in other words, all my sins" (Q&A 69, Heidelberg Catechsim)
Today was a good day.  A very good day. Every spring the chaplain (Joe B) here at Central does baptisms out at Lake Red Rock. I kind of get excited about baptisms and this year I was more excited than usual.  Let me back track a bit...
October 2008:
I have a dream about a beautiful baptism ceremony that was preceeded by the weirdest and coolest funeral I have ever seen.  It was my funeral that I had seen, but it was weird because I was present and participating in the funeral.  It was also weird because it was happening here at school with school people, not the home people.  Immediately after I was buried, I was baptized by immersion and there was a huge celebration.  (If you want to see the original write-up on the dream with more detail, let me know...not going to put it here because it would make this post super long).  My take away from the dream was 2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
November 2008:
I start having seizures.  I forget about my dream and start adapting to and trying to figure out life with seizures.
fast forward to February 2010:
We talk about baptism in one of my classes.  I am overwhelmed with the powerful symbolism of baptism by immersion. I feel a tugging inside to be baptized by immersion and express this to a trusted friend.  The only catch is that I have already been baptized and the RCA does not re-baptize people.  We pray about it and sit on the idea.
April 2010:
The idea of baptism has come up a few more times and I've been wrestling with it a lot.  I think the symbolism is powerful and I feel an unexplainable longing for it, but I don't need to be baptized because it was already done when I was an infant.  I can't come to peace with it theologically. Joe B talks about baptism at Sunday night worship and encourages anyone who wants to participate in the Red Rock baptisms to talk to him.  I'm still not at peace with it, so I don't talk to him about it.
April 26, 2010:
Our speaker in Pre-Min talks about doing baptisms for people who have already been baptized in the spirit of remembering what has already been done. He likened it to people renewing wedding vows.  You don't renew wedding vows because they didn't work they first time, but because they did and you want to celebrate that.  I spend considerable time pondering this.
May 5, 2010:
8pm: I have a long talk with a trusted friend and the idea of baptism comes up.  I tell him that I was not going to be baptized because I could not come to peace with it thoelogically. 
9pm: InterVarsity large group worship...our leader (Jordan) invites anyone who feels that they have undergone some sort of transformation this year and is interested in being baptized to talk to him after worship. 
10:30pm:  Worship is over and I have a lot on my mind.  I don't go talk to Jordan, I sit and think.  A friend comes and asks me what is on my mind...I tell her about my wrestling with baptism.  She goes and gets Jordan and I go through it all again.  Jordan sees the theological issues with re-baptism, but is in favor of celebrating the amazing things G-d has done in my life this year.  He encourages me to talk to two other people who have been spiritual leaders in my life this year about it since they have been walking with me closer.
midnight: I'm back in my room, praying about the idea of baptism and remember the dream from October 2008.  I go back in my journal and read the original write up and somewhere inside it clicks that the reason Joe B was baptizing me in the dream was because maybe it was supposed to happen that way.  I share my dream with some friends and they get excited about it.
May 6, 2010:
10:30am:  I talk with the first person Jordan mentioned and she agrees with Jordan.  Theologically, re-baptism is not sound, but celebrating and remembering my first baptism is.  She thinks it's a good idea (or at least not a bad one) but encourages me to talk to Joe B (same as Jordan).
3pm:  It is Tulip Time in Pella and Joe B is real busy.  I catch him for a moment and give him a very very brief summary of the last 24 hours and a briefer summary of rest the year.  His response is that he wants to spend some time praying about it.
May 8, 2010:
8am:  I get an e-mail indicating that Red Rock baptisms are happening on Sunday.  I still have not heard from Joe B.
5pm:  It is still Tulip Time and we are all still really busy.  I catch up with Joe B at the carpet ball tables and we have a very brief conversation. He re-iterates that re-baptism is not theologically sound and I agree. However, he is willing to celebrate what G-d has been doing in my life and remember my first baptism.  He encourages me to ask some friends who have been fighting for/with me and standing with me to come out with me.  People show up for carpet ball and our conversation is over.
May 9, 2010:
7am: I am awake and excited.  It's gonna be a good day.
9am: I'm having trouble focusing in church because I'm so excited.
5pm: I have the feeling kind of like what you get when you are backstage on opening night and you know the house is packed...excited and nervous all at the same time.  The temperature is starting to drop again and it's clouding over.
6:30pm: Kari meets me at my room and we go over to the chapel to carpool out to Red Rock.
7pm: Party time!
We all stand on the beach while Joe talks some about baptism and Megan is baptized.  Hooray for new believers!

Chelsea and Sara help me out into the water where Joe B, Niki and Kari are waiting.  It's a great picture of the community that has meant so much to me in my walk here...I'm never walking alone. We are ready to celebrate the rememberance of my first baptism and the awesome stuff G-d has been doing in my life.

My baptism is celebrated and remembered and Joe B, who has been walking with me for 4 years gets a huge hug.

Lots of hugging and celebrating ensued...those of us who were wet wrapped up in towels and blankets...those who were dry got happy wet hugs.

Back on campus for the last Sunday night worship of the semester (and of my undergrad career) and a dry photo with my amazing friends and warriors.
G-d is good, so very very good!  I am so filled with joy right now...not other words describe it...those of you who know me well know I don't generally make puns on my own name...but that's the only way to describe how I feel.  Joyful.
The next three days are going to be papers and project and finals for me...and packing.  Graduation on Saturday, head for home Sunday...no matter where I go, I will never walk alone.

2 comments:

Alex said...

Dear Joy,
I know you don't know me. I am a friend of Sarah's and I saw the link to this story under the picture of your celebration on Facebook. I just wanted to let you know what a beautiful testimony your story is for me. Earlier in the year, Sarah asked me to be in prayer for you, because of your seizures. When she told me your name, it struck me. There was Satan, attacking a child of God bearing the name of one of His greatest gifts to us -- Joy. I prayed for you and lately had been wondering how you were doing. Then I read this post -- what an amazing story of God's faithfulness! His Joy has been made complete in you, and it is so beautiful to see! Praise God! I pray that He would continue to bless you and keep you as you continue on your journey. Thank you for sharing this evidence of God's love.
Your sister in Christ,
Alex

Joy said...

Thank you for you kind words and prayers Alex. It really means a lot to me to know that people are praying for me, even if they don't know me. I'm still having seizures sometimes, usually about once or twice a week, but they have become less violent and shorter, which is a huge blessing.
May the Lord bless you and keep you Alex, may he make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.

PS: just curious, which Sarah? I have lots of Sarahs in my life...