Monday, September 22, 2008

Baptism in the Creek

Stratton Bridge on Long Creek in Oglethorpe County. This is not a bridge in the traditional sense. It is slabs of aggregate concreted, reinforced by re-bar and attached to each other with extremely large hook and eye. The slabs are sort of "floating" in the creek. At times, the water is just rushing between the slabs and at times there is a couple of inches of water on the slabs. Because of these slabs, there is a nice bit of falling water below the bridge and a large swimming hole above it.

This is part of the congregation. We must have had 50 people at the creek to witness the baptism, including Bart, the dog.

Part of the baptismal party. I wore my surplice with no cassock because it is made of stain release material. My alb is not. I didn't know it would make me look like a marshmallow with legs and a head. And pink crocs. The girls acted as my acolytes -- I was able to hand them the Bible and what not. Also with me is one of the children, the candidate for baptism and the congregational sponsor.

The congregation gathering on the bridge.

The baptismal party. The candidate for baptism is a large man -- well at least bigger than I am. I had three other people with me to help me lift him out (good thing, too). The water was a little low in this spot. It was much higher last week when we scoped it out. It did drop off quite precipitously a few feet to the left -- much too deep. So this was our compromise. Next time -- deeper water.

I used the older version of the Baptismal Covenant -- more comfortable language for this congregation. We also sang as we gathered "Shall We Gather At The River?" and as we left "Amazing Grace." I gave Mark a Bible -- and the little girl (Cynthia) a cross necklace. There were several people there who have never been to church -- friends and families and neighbors. Many told us that they would like to visit.

It's amazing what happens when you take "church" out of the walls of the building. I felt the spirit moving among us yesterday. I believe it was a powerful witness to those gathered. On the service all that really happened was a few people getting wet in the creek with their clothes on -- and yet with the older liturgy, the movement of the water, the fish and the wildlife in the creek making it feel so alive, the palpable love you can feel in this group of people, it was so much more than that. I loved Cynthia dancing around and having Bart the "goggie" there. It was a beautiful thing that I don't know that words can describe.

Praise be!

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