written by Glenys Nellist
Since I was baptized as an infant, I have no recollection of that sacred moment. I know that it took place in a small red-brick church in northern England. I know that all my family was gathered there, that I wore a white baptism gown, and that my parents were given a certificate inscribed with my name and the date. But I remember none of it.
How special, then, when I was able to participate in a reaffirmation of my baptism at the River Jordan seven years ago, in the very same place where Joshua crossed the waters to claim the Promised Land; in the very same spot where Jesus waded out to John the Baptist. And as if that wasn’t special enough, I was accompanied that day by my sister.
Pauline is just two years older than me. Somehow, she has always been at my side to share in sacred moments. It was her who held my hand when I was ten and she was twelve, as we stepped up to the altar and ‘gave our lives to Jesus,’ unsure of what that really meant, knowing only that God was with us in that place, and would be with us every day after.
And it was true. Over four decades later, God was with us at the edge of the River Jordan, no longer girls, but grandmas, donned in our white gowns, about to wade into that water together. And when we emerged, dripping and sodden and exhilarated by the cold, we turned to each other and hugged, as two white doves flew overhead.
How could I not dedicate my new picture book, Baptized in the Water, to Pauline, in memory of that special, sacred moment?
“Baptized in the water,
Like Jesus long ago.
God’s Holy Spirit dances,
As waters gently flow.”
Baptized in the Water is a celebration of baptism in all its varying forms, and teaches children that no matter how, or where, or when we are baptized, what matters is that in baptism we are joined in one human family, and each of us belongs to God.
Five tips on talking with children about the meaning and mystery of baptism are included in the book’s free downloadable Activity Pack.