Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On a personal note... is my 25th baptismal anniversary.

On 20 June 1982, I was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit at the age of 18 by the Rev. Alvin Boehlke at Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. On the same day, I was confirmed by the Rev. David Belasic, and was given my first Holy Communion.

I was baptized with a group of about 6 or 7 other adults - everyone else was Hmong (Cambodian). It was probably the one time in my life I towered over everyone else. Of course, such a large number of adults being baptized at once was a rather solemn occasion. The sensation of water on my forehead reminds me of my baptism to this very day.

Of course, I'm grateful to all of my pastors - especially to Pastor Al Boehlke, a soft-spoken Seelsorger from Wisconsin, whose old-fashioned law and gospel sermons brought forgiveness, life, and salvation to myself and others under his gentle care. This kind and faithful pastor patiently taught the faith to me, and gave me a copy of the Augsburg Confession (which I still have in my possession). I read it in one sitting and asked to be baptized.

I spent this auspicious anniversary tutoring Latin students (for six hours), trimming weeds, teaching adult Bible class, saying Mass, and preaching a sermon. Afterwards, I came home, lit my baptismal candle and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Triune God for keeping me in the faith through no worthiness or merit on my own part. My dear wife surprised me with a baptismal birthday gift of a fine beers from around the world and even finer chocolate (not to mention she baked me a cherry pie) - perfect gifts to celebrate the lavish and abundant life given to us by the Holy Trinity. To commemorate my second birth, I drank a Kronenbourg - a French beer from a brewery established in 1664 - exactly three centuries before my first birth.

Today was also marked by a milestone regarding my two-and-a-half year old son Leo (whom I had the honor to baptize into his second birth the day after I cut his umbilical cord following his first birth). It seems the little genius found my old digital camera, and on his own, figured out how to operate it. He shot quite a few pictures of, shall we say, random subjects. Grace helped him take a few more shots of actual things. Later on, I showed him how to line up images in the LCD viewfinder - and so he took his first two portraits - one of me, and one of his mother.

So, 25 years to the day after my own baptism (of which I have no picture), my son (whom I baptized with my own hand) has taken his fist snapshot of his father and pastor.

Milestones such as a 25th baptismal anniversary are times to reflect on the grace of God, as well as on the ironical fact that in the baptismal life of the Christian, time blends into eternity - where the very concept of marking time becomes meaningless.

And yet, just the same, today was a remarkable day for me to observe within the confines of time - thanks to a humble pastor, a shell-full of water, and the mighty Word of God that converged on my head 25 years ago today.

Baptizatus sum. Deo gratias in saecula saeculorum!