I met this lovely woman, the Reverend Angela Dionne Madden, at the Festival of Homiletics. What you can’t really see in the photo is how much she looks like a young Liz Taylor:
After we talked about shoes and other fun items (like how cute is that bag?), Angela asked me if I had any thoughts about what she might wear for a full-immersion baptism that she would be doing today.
Of course, it being PENTECOST (Holy Ghost power! Holy Ghost power!), we both thought she should wear a flaming red dress, but I’m not sure that was among her options. So I recommended that she wear a cotton top and skirt — heavy enough material that she could pull it away from her body after coming out of the water and it wouldn’t cling too much, wouldn’t be sheer, and could breathe and dry quickly. She said she’d be wearing waders, which is a good idea for anyone who’s taking a new Christian into the Jordan and doesn’t want to wind up getting sucked into the mud. Nothing ruins a beautiful baptism so quickly as a pastor flailing their arms for help and sinking quickly from view. Although…. what a way to go, huh?
Speaking of which, I was just chatting with our town funeral director — who has become very dear over the years — who told me about a woman who died on the massage table. “That’s how I want to go!” I said. Just an aside, darlings, be good to your funeral directors. If you’re a small-town pastor, you can learn where all the bodies are buried from your local FD, and I mean that literally as well as metaphorically.
So ANYhoo, we talked about what Angela might wear — including various alb options — and what I really loved the best was when her friend Julia and I got to practice dipping her back, because we wanted to show her that she really was going to get quite wet. The thing is, baptizing preachers, make sure to really bend at the knee as you dip your new Christian backward or you’ll strain your back. As a Unitarian who sprinkles babies and children with just a teaspoon or so of water as they are blessed, named and welcomed into our covenant, I have no real-life experience with that sort of thing, but it was really tender working it out with Pastor Angela and being a little part of the blessing she would help God bestow today upon some folks in Pratt, Kansas.
So Angela, I’m thinking of you and hoping that you had a beautiful baptism.
And all the rest of you, if you have a hankering to run around praising the Lord and speaking in tongues, well today is your day. You go for it, and let the rest of us more cautious, less-Pentecostal types know how it went.