Thursday, October 8, 2009

Immersed In Faith

In 1708 Alexander Mack formed the Schwarzenau Brethren in Schwarzenau, Germany. As members of this congregation migrated to the United States, they changed the name to German Baptist Brethren or Dunkards. In 1880, again the church changed when the German Baptist broke away so they could retain the simple dress and customs while the other portion of the church became the Church of the Brethren. The church, my birth church, emphasizes peace, simplicity, the equality of believers and consistent obedience to Christ. They are a peace loving congregation who believe in not saving the world for Christ but more so in saving the cultures, the people, for themselves as brothers and sisters because that is what we should do for one another across oceans, across prejudice and poverty..

Our church had many customs held over from the Dunkard past. Communion meals with feet washing and the holy kiss. Immersion baptism for those who joined the church. Children were dedicated to the church for the church to support and nurture but joining the church was a decision the child made when he or she was old enough to make the choice.

It was a rather wonderful way to grow up learning to humble oneself when washing another's feet. When I was a teen, it finally hit home. We were having the love feast from the last supper consisting of broth and  bread. After the meal, we had the communion of unleavened bread and juice. (no wine in the Brethren Church). I girded my waist with a long towel and knelt before an older, heavy-set farm woman. Gently I lifted each foot into a basin and splashed her feet with water. After, I placed her foot one at a time in my lap and dried each. I then tied the towel around her waist, and she did the same. At the end of the sweet ceremony, we placed a kiss on one another's cheeks. Giving and receiving. Serving and being served.

I was a child who stepped forward to ask to be part of this congregation. Baptized by immersion in water, I was joined with Christ in a ritual ages old and yet still new. When my children asked to be part of the Community Church we were attending here in Oregon, they both asked to be immersed as I had many years before. It was an unusual request and an emotional one for all of those standing around the stream watching.

A simple life. A simple faith. Serving others was a privilege and an honor. Others need not believe what I believed but could be encouraged them to believe in themselves and what they could achieve. Prejudice was wrong and good actions could change the world.

I was proud of my children for stepping back in time, for realizing what baptism felt like from the inside out and the outside in. No longer do I belong to the Brethren church , but in my heart I am still that simple girl with that simple belief.

It was good to be part of Painter Creek Church. It still is.

Add to Technorati Favorites

No comments: