I grew up in the ’60’s in a very Catholic neighborhood. Even as a young girl I remember everyone celebrating the election of John F. Kennedy to the White House as the first ever Catholic President. My friends around the Easter season sported ashes on their foreheads and the ones that went to our Catholic grade schools had beautiful religious storybooks that they let me devour when they weren’t using them. I wanted the Rosary beads. I wanted to give up something for Lent and I definitely wanted to choose another middle name like they did when they made their First Holy Communion. I also wanted to fit in…but I was raised in a Baptist church with ‘Sunday’ school. That meant two hours on Sunday instead of one.
As we grew, I tried to explain some of the ways my church was different from theirs. The biggest was baptism. We called it ‘believers baptism’. We were able to decide when we were ready to be baptized in our baptistery in front of the entire congregation. My friends were baffled by this and very, very worried about me…because I wasn’t baptized yet. My best friend Diane every once in a while would start in on me,
” Well…when exactly do you think that you are gonna to do this baptism thing….because I’m worried.”
I knew why she was worried…she thought if disaster were to strike and I happened to die, well, you know- it would mean I wouldn’t be in heaven at all and would have to contend with the ‘lake of fire’ and those pitchforks in that opposite place.
I know that Diane cared about me. I wasn’t exactly sure of why I wasn’t ready to be baptized yet, but I did know that I had asked Jesus to be my savior and that he had promised that I would live with him in heaven some day…in that distant future when I was ‘old’ enough to die. And I really didn’t like to think about that death thing- at all.
Three of us would walk home from school every day…two Catholics and a Baptist. My friend Diane, every single day insisted that I needed to walk in the middle of the two of them, when we walked down Oakton. It was a fairly busy street. One day it was driving me crazy, the way I had to always be in the middle. Then Diane told me…you will have to walk this way with us until you are baptized in your church. If a car jumps the curb and it’s heading towards us, it will be easy for us to jump in front of you and save you from eternal disaster. We will die for you because we were baptized when we were babies.
“My friends, willing to die for me???” Amazing love, how can it be?.
I didn’t say it back then…I know now, that this is exactly what the perfect son of God did when he lived here on earth…he died, so all of us would not perish but have life with him forever.
Amazing love, how can it be?