At General Seminary's Community Eucharist on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, members of the congregation welcomed a new member of the Christian household, Amelia Wall. She is the daughter of Pickett Wall, an M.Div. junior and his wife Lee Anne.
The service of Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist provided the community with an opportunity to experience creative ways of offering the sacrament of Holy Baptism through meaningful symbol.
After the Baptismal Covenant, it took two acolytes to carry an impressive amount of water from the chancel and pour it into the font. Dean Malloy sanctified the water, chanting while submerging both of his hands into its depths, then fully dipped Amelia, naked, into the water, as a powerful representation of her death and resurrection in Christ.
During the singing of the hymn "We know that Christ is raised and dies no more"(The Hymnal 1982 #296), Amelia's parents dressed her in the white garment of her new life in Christ. Then, Dean Malloy poured onto Amelia the chrism, which dripped into the baptismal waters, causing the Chapel of the Good Shepherd to fill with sweet fragrance. He then gently rubbed the chrism all over Amelia's head and made the sign of the cross upon her, sealing her by the power of the Holy Spirit and marking her as Christ's own forever.
In her sermon, Kerlin Richter, an M.Div. senior, poetically welcomed Amelia into the Christian family:
I am sorry Amelia, but we are bringing you into a family of fools... We are willing to go recklessly into a world that believes in counting the cost, hedging its bets, saving its skin, and being terrified. We are going out that door into a world that does not leap into the arms of death. But Amelia, that is exactly what we will do. Not just today. But over and over and over and over again. Every time we come to this table, we come to die. We come to live. And it is because of these dark and dangerous waters of baptism that we know with every pulse of our hearts that those are the same thing...
Amelia, hear our stories, die with us, live with us, taste and see and sing with us.
Photo credits: John Bethell, M.Div. senior.