What were we to make of this?

Published 10:27 am Thursday, April 3, 2014

For nearly 10 years, folks have walked past the unused baptistery sitting square at the front of Nola’s one and only church. Last weekend, 200 gallons of water filled its 1960s blue fiberglass, and a brand-new heater bought off the Internet spent a whole night warming that basin of water up.

Sunday morning dawned bright blue, holding enough temperature of its own to make the air conditioner start up as members and visitors piled into the pews. They were there to celebrate the rebirth of two young moms and a National Guardsman, and by all indications both inside and out (where minivans and Silverados were parked bumper to bumper), a church had been rebirthed as well. Just three years ago attendance under that very steeple could be counted on one hand.

There was a sermon, then a song of being whiter than snow before the first came out, her own white-as-snow baptismal robe floating through a fair share of the 200 gallons. Some denominations would call her a candidate for baptism, and if she was that, then it’s no wonder why her speech was so good. The confession of her tongue wound its way down the rows, spelling out where a stiff neck had gotten her and where a changed heart is taking her.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Creased faces and newer ones, a family’s black sheep and a seeker from another faith – we all listened, taking in a testimony that was more than mere Christian lingo. We were a crowd used to making much of ball games and big names, but what were we to make of this?

The preacher rolled up his sleeves and her silhouette dipped. The water sloshed. She came up smiling.

Another descended the slip-resistant steps and took the sacred spot. A group had spent their yesterday mulching flowerbeds and cleaning cabinets at the church in anticipation of these moments, and that’s when they found the navy blue table runners that this candidate had recognized.

“From our wedding reception seven years ago,” she had said, fingering their hemmed edges. Her history of passing by the baptistery ran deep, but now her path ran clear through it. Standing there in the water, she said it loud and she said it for all to hear, that she wanted to be drenched in Jesus.

There was a problem, though.

The preacher made light of it, asking the crowd, “Did John the Baptist have to deal with glasses?” She passed her pair over, then went under.

Next, the soldier made his own waves. With a mike to his mouth, he told it like it is – and like it was – writing an obituary for all the world to read that said the old him is dead.

A wife watching from a spot near stained glass knew his words were true, knew she liked being that kind of widow.

The soldier rose from the water, and the preacher wrapped things up, explaining that they were “just being obedient to the command found in the Scriptures.”

Those three were left dripping, but no more than several cheeks in the congregation. I looked around hard in an effort to take it all in.

Because that old fiberglass baptistery out at Nola, the one sporting the vintage blue? Well, it was back in use last Sunday – back in a very big way.

Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.