The church was pitch black, even as the last of the daylight was fading outside. Because there had been a near miss with the new fire at some point in the past, Steve, our sexton, was outside on the church steps kindling an inferno in a flower pot. He had big barbeque gloves on and smoke billowed into the narthex, even through the closed glass doors. The whole scene was so funny I chuckled out loud and got 'shushed' by a woman I didn't know. Maybe her Easter hadn't come yet.
I love the Great Vigil. It is another long service. On Saturday it was almost two hours. There is a lot going on, between the Old Testament readings, the candles, the first Eucharist and the Hallelujah Chorus. But the part I love best of all is the Baptisms.
This year, we had one. It was someone I knew. An adult who has been coming to Grace for quite some time. He has been coordinating the soup kitchen on Saturdays and is a sweet and gentle young man. At first I didn't realize it was he who was getting the dunk. I thought perhaps it was a member of his family. But when no baby appeared in the front pew, I began to put it together.
In our church, we sing the litany of the saints during the procession to and from the Baptismal font. The choir sings the names of the saints and the congregation sings back "stand by us now".
Saint John the Baptist.... stand by us now.
Saint Mary Magdalen.....stand by us now.
D.was walking with his sponsors back towards the font.
I love adult baptisms best of all, because I know what it is like to get socked by the Holy Spirit as an adult. I relive my own baptism and feel great joy at theirs. And I feel privileged to be a witness to the beginning of their transformation.
The next morning, at the Easter service, I approached D.
"Did you get any sleep last night?" I asked.
"No," he laughed.
"The Holy Spirit is going to kick your butt..."
We laughed and hugged.
Because we both knew it was true.