Early on Sunday morning, before heading to worship service, we journeyed to the Caymanas River for baptism. Without a doubt, this was one of my most memorable moments on the trip. Funny enough, I had planned to skip it because we had to be up and out by 5:45am and I wanted to sleep in (Sunday was a challenging day for me, I’ll write more about that later).
One of the things that I quickly learned in Jamaica is that there complete outward trust in God is different than what I often observe here. I’m not suggesting that it’s better, worse or actually different, it’s simply seems different. Baptism is an example of that. I’ve never witnessed baptism by immersion because we mainly baptize by sprinkling in the AME church here, but in Jamaica it seems that baptism by sprinkling is an anomaly. The Jamaicans want to go down in the water and rise up a new creature in Christ!
So, we journeyed about 45 minutes from Kingston out to the river. The main roads are much like what we have here in the States, but once we got to the village roads…things were a bit different. There were many potholes and narrow stretches, but we arrived safely. The area where the baptism took place was rather interesting as well…it was in a park, that also is a concert venue. In the middle, there was a beautiful river, but around the perimeter was a bar and soundstage, and we could smell the reefah as we were leaving…kinda interesting, but God is omnipresent!
As we got to the river, there was a baptism ceremony already going on. It was a little different than ours, in that, those being baptized wore anything they wanted, but it was still a beautiful sight to see. As our baptism began, the ministers and baptismal candidate were all dressed in white, we sang songs, shared readings, and watched with joy as our sister in Christ was dipped down in the water. The water was amazingly clear…it just looked like holy water. I was snapping pictures and internally rejoicing all at the same time.
There was something so beautiful and special about this experience. I’m not sure if it was watching the elders of the church prepare the young lady in her white headdress for baptism or the glistening of the water or the quiet anticipation as we all sat watching the baptism take place, but there was something beautiful about it. It made me think of how baptism is so routine here in the States, one has a baby and the baby gets baptized based on his/her parent’s profession of faith. We may or may not see the family back in church consistently ever again, it’s as if baptism isn’t special, it’s just what we do. I’m not judging, but I somehow wonder if baptism is more impactful after one has declared his/her own trusting faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism shouldn’t be just something we do, it’s a serious matter, it’s symbolic of dying to our sinful nature and being washed and transformed by Christ. After baptism, our faith still has to be nurtured as we grow in Christ. I remember wanting to be baptized again after accepting Jesus for myself, but as AMEs we believe in one baptism, so it wasn’t an option for me since I was baptized as an infant. Despite this, I’m fully convinced that there’s something deeply impactful that occurs when one is baptized after professing his/her own faith in Jesus. This thought is certainly something that I will continue to ponder on in the days ahead!
Until next time, be well!