I have seen hundreds of water baptisms in my lifetime. I have spent just about every Sunday morning for the last forty years of my life in church services. Over those years my favorite baptisms were the ones where the pastors were able to baptize their own kids. At our last church, parents were encouraged to baptize their own kids, so when Lydia and Jessica decided to be baptized I took advantage of the opportunity and baptized them both. It was a great experience for us all.
A couple of months ago Elaina told me she was interested in being baptized. She is such a daddy’s girl that I knew she would agree to let me baptize her. Since joining our current church about four years ago, I haven’t seen anyone besides our pastoral staff baptize anyone. I approached the leadership team and got permission to baptize Elaina.
I don’t usually get very nervous, but last Sunday we were both pretty nervous as we sat through the quick baptism class during Sunday school. There was a pretty small group of us in the class. Pastor Barry went through all the instructions. He explained what the baptizer would say and what the baptizee was supposed to say in response. We then went on a tour of the baptismal in the main auditorium.
Our church does the baptisms half way through the worship service, so we were instructed to find our way to the baptismal at the start of worship. Once the music began, Elaina and I made our way behind the stage. Everyone was engaged in nervous chatter. Our youth leader, Pastor Brandon, would be performing all the baptisms so he kept us engaged in small talk. Elaina was noticeably nervous, so I rehearsed all the movements and our lines with her. We were third in line, and when Pastor Brandon announced us as a tandem I moved into the baptismal first and announced her. The lights were bright but low enough for us to see the thousand, or so, people in the auditorium. It was a little overwhelming, but we were ready.
“Good morning,” I started, “this is my daughter, Elaina Dibben. I had the pleasure of baptizing our two older daughters, so I wanted to baptize Elaina as well.”
Elaina moved down into the warm water with me, and I turned her towards the audience and motioned towards them with my left hand.
“Elaina, before God and these witnesses, do you publicly profess Jesus Christ as your Lord And Savior?”
“Yes,” she said so loudly we got a few giggles from the crowd!
I helped her rotate to the left into the traditional baptizing position. She lifted her left hand to her nose; I placed my right hand behind her back and put my left hand over her nose to help keep it closed. She turned her head to look at me, I made eye contact with her and continued.
“Elaina, upon your profession of faith I now baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
We made eye contact, she smiled at me, and I lowered her backwards into the water. She closed her eyes just as the water rushed over her face. As I raised her back into a standing position Amanda Lapore took this photo.
I don’t even remember who baptized me. I barely remember where I was baptized. A baptism needs to be more memorable, and I can’t think of a more memorable way than to have your own dad baptize you. I would love to make this more common in our church. I want to see more fathers step up and baptize their children.
Elaina and I will certainly make a lot more great memories together. I don’t expect very many of them will be as memorable as December 29, 2013.