Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jail & Baptism

Walking into the jail I wondered if it would work. On my monthly jail services I preach/teach the same text as I use at church in the morning. If you look back at the blog post two down from here you can see the wonderful baptismal font at MCC. That was the focal point of the service today, with an invitation for baptismal renewal after the service. During the first service a modest number came forward to swirl their hands in the waters. But after the second service, a flood of people came forward, some crying as they renewed their baptismal vows. As I thought the crowd was thinning, a very old and frail woman shuffled to the font on the arm of her daughter and a friend. As she dipped her hand into the waters I was overcome by God's grace. She "got it" so totally. She wanted to go back to the waters that claim her, name her and love her. Then another old woman was wheeled down in her wheel-chair by her daughter and she reached in and let her hand just float in the water. What could go deeper than that?
At the guard station I asked for a container of water. They looked quizzically at me, but soon gave me an empty styrofoam cereal bowl. I went to the drinking fountain as all the guys were lining up and silently filled the bowl. As we walked to the classroom, I could sense their eyes on me and that bowl. When it came time to teach, I set that little styrofoam bowl in the center of the room and preached the same (without notes and with a lot of their help) sermon as in the morning. At the end, I placed the bowl above on a chair in the middle of the room and said "Here is the font of your baptismal water, come if you wish and renew your vows." All but three of the men (17) came up and took time dipping their hands in the waters, touching their faces and cheeks, praying and smiling. The three who did not come, looked to me and said, "We are not baptized. Would you come back and baptize us?" How cool is that? So my next adventure will be performing a jail baptism of three inmates. It's all good!


At 3:24 PM , Blogger Isaac Johnson said...

Now that is pretty awesome.

At 4:52 AM , Anonymous katie said...

All good, indeed.


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