May 2, 2021Read by Kara Toole
My journey with faith started when I was baptized for the first time… in the kitchen sink. I was three weeks old and my grandmother, who I adoringly call Maws, was in town visiting. In the midst of discussing whether or not I should be baptized as an infant, my parents took a walk. Maws and I were alone for all of fifteen minutes. While my mom and dad walked around our Denver, Colorado city block, Maws blessed me and poured water from the tap over my head. While my first baptism was not technically legitimate in the eyes of any church, my Catholic grandmother’s sneaky blessing, which she did not confess to until recently, is incredibly meaningful to me now. It was her prayer for me and for who I would become; her bestowing of protection, care, and grace upon me as a child of God. That blessing that I’ve carried with me all these years shapes how I understand my baptism today with my College Park family.
I am lucky that church has always felt like home to me. From the time that I was very little, I was excited to sit in the pews of the church my family attended and would refuse to go to the kid’s Sunday school class until after listening to the sermon with the “big kids.” I was known to sneak into adult Sunday school classes where, at age 5, I heard conversations about the big questions I was asking in my little head. I proudly served as Angel #6 in the Christmas pageant and found community and friendship with kids around me as we learned stories about the men and women in the bible. I sat through more social justice committee meetings than I could count on my fingers and toes, soaking it all in.
When we moved across the country and landed here in Greensboro, my parents decided to take a break from church as we got our bearings. My sister and I, ages 4 and 6, cried every Sunday morning about having lost our church home until my parents finally gave in and started church shopping. In church, I felt loved and challenged both intellectually and spiritually. I felt like I belonged to something bigger than myself, and I wanted to find that again.
I came to love College Park during a time full of chaos and turmoil for my family. I was suffering deeply, and this community, which would become my church family, wrapped its arms tightly around me, truly showing me what it means to be Christ-like. Church took on a whole new meaning. It became the greatest stabilizing force in my life as something I could count on each week. This became a place for me to have hard conversations, to ask big questions, to be authentic and honest, to play lots of games of Sardines, to love and be loved, and to heal. As my relationship with this community grew, my relationship with God did too.
At every church I have attended, the question about whether or not I should be baptized has come up. And, for years, I insisted that it wasn’t the right time yet. I didn’t know it then, but I was waiting for this day in this church to profess my belonging to this community and my devotion to my faith. I am “of” College Park and we are all “of” one another here as we wrestle with how to best follow the word of God and the life of Jesus.
To me, my baptism is a prayer by this community as I launch myself into the world. And it is my commitment to serve God, to continue to learn about my faith, and to follow in the example of Jesus. It is my recognition of my life-long responsibility as a child of God to embrace humility, to seek growth, to recognize inequities, to fight for justice, and to love wholeheartedly and unconditionally. You have taught me that.