The coldest baptism in my life was in Hot Coffee.
A young couple had accepted Christ. It was a cold February day when they came to be baptized, and the baptistry heater had broken. Back then, I didn’t wear waders in the baptistry. I had two pair of brown Hagar slacks, and after I got wet baptizing, I dried off and put on the other pair. So I knew I was going to get cold, too. I asked them if they wanted to wait until the heater was fixed. They said, “Naw, we’ve been swimming in a cold creek before.”
So at the end of the service, we got ready. I descended into the water, and wow! it was cold, but I acted like there was no problem. I turned to the man, who slowly stepped into the water from my right side. He, too, acted like the water was fine.
Since this was my first baptism in this particular church, I was not familiar with the faucet sticking out on my left side. As I brought the man out of the icy water, I scraped his forehead on the faucet. Yet he joyfully arose from the baptistry, revealing no pain.
Next, his wife stepped into the water. When her feet touched the near-freezing water, she froze, too. I tugged at her hand to come. Reluctantly, and shivering from the cold, she came into the water. I baptized her, this time being careful not to rip open her forehead on the faucet. When she came up out of the water, she slung her long hair back and forth, opened her mouth as wide as possible, and shouted at the top of her lungs, “GOOOOD! IT’S COLD!”
People were rolling in the aisles, mouths wide open in laughter. I could see the tonsils of half the congregation. That day I was glad that we had baptism at the end of the service, because church was over! Oh, did I mention where the church was? It was the Baptist church in the rural community of Hot Coffee, Miss.
Strange as it may seem, this story reminds us of what baptism is all about. Baptism is a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus even asked his disciples, “Can you...be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” (Mark 10:38, NIV) He was asking if they were willing to die for him. Most of us would probably prefer scraping our heads on the faucet. Or being baptized in hot coffee.
Copyright 2008 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Thursday for a mix of religion and humor. You can read more “Holy Humor” on the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.