I have a story that will tickle your funny bone. . .about a couple of teenage boys. . .and how they ended up in the church baptistery with no clothes as visitors arrived. . .
CROSSING MORGAN'S CREEK is a novel written by our own Ben Gill, who grew up in the same little community that I did. . .He claims his book is purely fiction--that the town, the bayou, and the people are figments of his own imagination. . .BUT. . .I can just about pick out every person, every locality, and every church mentioned. . .In this story I also suspect my Aunt Mamie Griffin is the lady who shows up with the girl's group. . .Uncle Malcolm, her husband, was the Dell Baptist Church minister for many years. . .
Well, whoever it is. . .it's a chuckle of a story.
|Back wall of the Baptistery, Crossroads Baptist Church|
The novel is written from the memories of Sam Hamilton . . .He was often a guest speaker at many small churches when he was a teen and believed he was called to the ministry. . .His Methodist friend, who also felt he had a calling, decided one warm summer day that he would teach Sam how to baptize. . .
For about the next hour, Leroy quizzed me on the ins and outs of baptism and communion and other such holy acts--and in most cases I failed. So since it was hot anyway and since the Baptist church always kept the baptistery full of water, he decided we ought to go over to the Baptist church and do a little practicing.
As usual, the church was unlocked so we proceeded to go up into the choir loft and looked over the top of the glass at the water.
"What do you mean, test it?"
"Put your hand in the water and see if it's cold 'cause if it is, I ain't gonna let you do no practicing on me," replied Leroy, and he said it like he really meant it.
I stood up on one of the folding chairs in the choir loft, reached over the glass, and stuck my hand in the water. It felt pretty good, but about this time it was dawning on me what Leroy had in mind. . . .
Leroy then explained what we were going to do. "Okay, now we are going to the back of the church to the stairs going up into the baptistery and you are going to practice baptizing me."
"Leroy, we ain't got no swimming suits with us. My mama will kill me if I get these fresh-ironed jeans wet. So how we gonna do this?"
Obviously he had already thought it through, "Does it look like there is anyone else in this church?"
I declared that it looked pretty empty to me.
"Well, what we are gonna do is get up there and take our clothes off and do some skinny baptizing just like we do skinny dipping down at Morgan's Creek. Good thing is that, up here in the baptistery, we won't have to worry about no water moccasins. Now if you will get on with it, we can be out of here in about 15 minutes, but you got to get this baptizing down. Now shut up and come on!"
That seemed like a pretty good answer to me so I proceeded to follow Leroy into the back of the church. . .
"What we do is both stand looking at the side wall so the congregation is looking at our sides. You will be right behind me and you will say something like this, 'We are proud to have our brother, Leroy, here tonight to proclaim his faith in Jesus. So I am going to baptize him.' At that point you will raise your right hand in the air and put your other hand on my chest. Then you will say, 'I baptize you my brother in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.'"
. . .Since it didn't seem too hard to me, I assured him that I had it down and up the stairs we went into the baptistery. . .Like two kids at the swimming hole on a hot summer day, we stripped our clothes off and got in the baptistery.
The first time I tried to baptize Leroy I got him under the water okay, but I couldn't remember the words and while I was trying to think about them, I almost drowned him. If he hadn't got his free hand around my neck and jerked himself out of the water, I guess I would have probably been practicing for my first funeral.
The second time I remembered the words jut like he had told me, but we got off balance and his feet came up out of the water just as his head went under thus nullifying the term of total immersion. Leroy was getting a little upset.
Just as we started for the third try, Aunt Mamie Sullivan opened the door of the auditorium, threw on all the lights, and walked in with about 10 of her G. A. (Girl's Auxiliary) teenage girls. If you are not of the Baptist persuasion, what you might not know is that the front to the baptistery facing the congregation is made of glass so that the whole congregation can be assured the preacher fully dunks the newborn Christian. . . .
So just as Aunt Mamie hit the light switch, Leroy and I turned in our total nakedness to face 11 pair of very wide eyes belonging to Aunt Mamie and the girls from the Baptist church G. A. division. I do not know the exact time, but somewhere in the range of 10 seconds several things happened. Aunt Mamie hit the light switch thus turning off the lights, 10 young ladies were introduced to the minister and his first baptismal candidate in a way they would never forget, and Leroy and I almost drowned each other getting back to our clothes.
I think it was the next day that Leroy passed me a note in Algebra class. Printed in very small print, it read, "I ain't even gonna dare try to teach you nothing about the Lord's Supper. My teaching days are over, boy. You are on your own!"
AS ALWAYS. . .SUNDAY HUGS