After being accepted to the church and the church’s in-house seminary program (while taking another seminary program) I finally got baptized. I had been seeking baptism for about 3 years and the church I was attending just wasn’t all that interested in seeing to my needs in that respect. I brought it up, at least, on a monthly basis only to be put off with some lame excuse or other.
Well, it finally happened in God’s time and on His schedule. I traveled to Ohio for the church convention and the very first item on the agenda was my baptism and confirmation. It was a grand affair in my eyes, the Canon who I consider my sponsor and spiritual advisor was there, the Canon who is in charge of my Anglican education, the monastic brother who assisted me greatly in my travel plans, a monastic sister whom I had not met but discovered an great deal in common (both of us being from the deep south), a fellow seminarian who was taking her deaconate ordination vows that same week, others within the church and the Presiding Bishop who performed the ceremony, and many others who watched with love and remembrance of their own baptism in the past. As they led me to the font to present me, the incense, the music, the love, it all came together and sort of dampened my aural senses causing sounds to be heard as if from underwater.
I remember saying to myself as I answered my bishop’s questions, “my God, my God, finally I am adopted into your family and so marked.” I remember the feel of the water being dropped over my head, and the somewhat inappropriate thought that they had messed up my hair. As they raised me up and turned me to be introduced anew to my family in the church, I looked around and saw a glow. This glow encompassed everything at once, yet individually. It was a great shining emanating from the walls, the floor, the vestments, the furniture, and oh the glow from the faces looking at me! “The glow of the Holy Spirit is shining out to me,” I remember thinking. As I looked at my colleagues and new family, all aglow with love and acceptance, I knew acceptance unconditional. I knew what heaven was going to look like.
For the rest of that week at convention, I cried at everything. But the tears were of joy as I watched my mentor deliver my baptism sermon, my friend being ordained into the deaconate, my Bishop elevate the host and break the bread of Christ, as I watched my new family share at The Lord’s Table the bounties of His gifts and of his promises to us. And I recall the passage in Ephesians wherein it stated that with baptism we are born anew, a new person to replace the old and it felt right. Here I stand today, a new man. And I say that truly. I see the world differently; I view my fellow humans with more love and acceptance than I had before. I am calmer, more at ease. I find myself offering of myself and my possessions more readily and with great happiness at doing so.
When you say the theme this month is “God Restores My Soul” I would have to most heartily concur. God most assuredly restored mine, which had been torn asunder by the doctrines of hate and exclusion with which I had so often been bombarded. He restored my soul and also restored my sense of what was truly right with His Word, not what was being shouted at me from the pulpits of false teachers. He restored my heart, my love, my awe, my gifts which He had so Graced me with before my conception. He brought back to me my sense of right and wrong, my sense of Him, my Father Almighty. He reaffirmed my sense of His Son, Christ Jesus, my Redeemer, my Saviour, my Light. And it is right and it is good and it is holy. So I say to you all, yes, YES! GOD RESTORES MY SOUL.