Sunday, December 9, 2007

Baptism Today (Joni)

I had the privilege of being able to witness a baptism at church today! Well, actually, it was 41 baptisms! I really wish I had brought my camera! It was a sight unlike anything I've ever seen before. I'll do my best to describe it for you.
This is a previous picture of the stage of my church, and I've cropped it to zoom in on where the baptistry is. Until today, I didn't even know there was a baptistry there! The floor comes up from that part behind the choir loft where the plants are sitting in the picture, and the bottom window of the cross is actually a door! So the baptisees lined up along the front of the church, then filed up along the left side of the stage beside the choir and down into the baptistry. The baptisees (about 15 men and 25 women - They don't baptize children.) were dressed in all white and were a neat sight to behold! Two pastors in blue robes led the procession and preceded them into the baptistry. Then they went in two-by-two, and each were dunked by a pastor after affirming their faith. There was a guy standing in front of the choir loft holding a microphone on a stick to the mouths of the pastors and baptisees, so we could all hear what was going on. After being dunked, the newly baptized then proceeded out the rear door where the cross had opened, so they were actually getting out of the water behind the wall, and it worked so smoothly that way! Each time the ones who had just been baptized were getting out and the new ones were getting in, the choir sang a little "Praise the Lord, Alleluia" song - even though they sang it 21 times, I never got tired of it! It was so neat! And I was shocked that they were able to baptize all 41 people in just 20 minutes!

Especially moving were the man and wife that were baptized together - what a change in that family! There were also two sisters who were baptized together, and I know that was meaningful and special for them. Most moving for me, though, was this really old lady who clearly was physically ailing. But you could see the determination on her face even from where I was sitting in the balcony. She had to have an usher on each side of her helping her up the stairs of the choir loft, and it took about 5 men to get her down into the baptistry. Then she was baptized by herself so she could have a pastor on each arm helping her back out of the water. But what a victorious moment when it was accomplished! Praise the Lord!

And then the most entertaining part of the day was after the baptisms were completed and we were waiting for the baptisees to get dressed and come back out to their seats. The choir sang, and then a lady got up and was doing a solo. I noticed that the women who had been baptized were slowly coming back out to their seats one by one, and I was surprised that their hair was dry! I thought, Are all 25 of those women really back there using hairdryers? Can the electric system hold that? And surely enough, right in the middle of the poor soloist's song, boom, the power went out. A few of us in the audience snickered because we knew what had happened. All the hairdryers had overloaded the circuits and popped the breaker! We sat there in silence before about 30 seconds before someone finally decided to take action. We for some reason had a live brass band playing that day, so they struck up a tune while they tried to get the power back on. They got it back on before the band had finished their song, and not too much longer all of the baptisees came out, most with perfectly dry hair.

It was a neat, fun, and moving experience, and I'm so glad that I was able to witness it before leaving Moldova!

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