Go, therefore, and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
This piece is a conversation with one of our older folk. You can listen to our conversation here, or read the transcript below:
Transcript, with additional notes:
What I remember is that you once told me a story about a baptism down at the beach. Do you remember that story?
Can you tell it to me?
Well, we had a visiting vicar. We didn’t have a vicar of our own. And so, we usually got this chap and he was very well trained. He’d been a vicar for years and years and years. Anyway, we were having a christening and he was the vicar doing this, this particular Sunday. We were all standing there in our best frocks, with granny and granddad and aunties and uncles, and he suddenly took the baby, and then went out the door!
So were you in the church?
Yes! We were in the church. We knew that he liked to do things a little bit differently, but he decided to baptize this child in the sea! And the church was right by the sea.
And did the family know this?
Oh, the family rushed out after him! But the family and the rest of us went out through the main door while he took the baby out the back door. And so we got out there and the parents, I must admit, were rather shaken by the whole thing. But anyway, he walked down to the water, followed very quickly by several of the wardens from the church, and he baptized the baby in the sea! Much to everybody’s relief, he didn’t either drop the baby, or drown it.
Did you think he might?
Was he a bit wobbly?
Was he older?
Yes! [Later she said that he was about 80 and very shaky on his pins.] I’m not sure whether he is still practicing but he was a great vicar, a lovely man.
So … what did you think about the baptism when it was done?
Well, I think the parents were very relieved. They definitely took on a bit more colour, when it was done! And we all thought it was just par for the course for this particular chap.
Did it feel like a good baptism?
Oh yes! Of course. It’s never been forgotten. I think our wardens were a bit worried. They were walking very quickly. [As we went over the story together later, she added that the wardens looked very surprised, then quickly took off their shoes and rolled up their trousers and walked very quickly out the door.]
What was the ocean like there?
Well, it could be quite rough but it was quite gentle that day. It came almost right up to the church, you see, so we didn’t have to go far and there were a lot of people hovering, including two very anxious parents. It was something we never forgot.
Can I ask, was this in Western Australia.
At Quinns Rocks?
Yeah, right. So the ocean would have been turquoise. Like I remember the colour of the ocean there. It’s beautiful.
The ocean would have been about as far as that fence is from the church.
Yes, yes, really close.
So only about five to ten metres away from the … oh, that’s incredible.
Oh, it was, too.
What an amazing place to have a church. So that’s a great story, that’s exactly what I need – that’s wonderful but tell me more about the church by the sea.
The church itself?
I’m curious. Like, you’d have the sea breeze, you’d have the salt, you’d hear the waves in church.
Yes. And the altar was right underneath a huge window which faced the sea.
Oh, that would have been beautiful.
Mmm. It was. I don’t think it’s like that now. They’ve built one [a permanent building] now. This was just a hut, you know – a little hut, temporary hut? – yeah, yeah, like a schoolroom.
At this point we stopped recording but later she added:
It was a lovely church, we started with just four people. We’d do things, you know, like bring vegetables from our gardens to swap. The more serious vicars, they didn’t know what to do with us—we were always smiling! Ω
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together daily stories and images from people in the congregation which are focused on God in this place. Why this theme? Read this! #Lent2023. Our Spiritual Geography © Sanctuary, 2023. Sanctuary is based on Peek Whurrong country. Full acknowledgement of country here.
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