A long time ago another first year minister in training and I used the baptistery in his church (Sharpsburg Christian Church) for a baptism of a member in my church (Bethel Christian Church). Bethel didn’t have an indoor baptistery (Flat Creek was just fine during the summertime and we usually waited until summer) but Sharpsburg did have an indoor baptistery. Someone made a Confession of Faith at Bethel one Sunday morning and didn’t want to wait until summer so my friend, the student minister down at Sharpsburg volunteered his church. It was a great act of kindness on their part.
The day before the baptism one of the old elders filled the baptistery and the baptism came and went without any hitches. For two young twenty something year olds we were “walking tall” as they like to say in the country.
Following the baptism we had to drain the baptistery and that wasn’t as easy as just pulling the plug in our own church baptistery these days. Heck, our baptistery is filled with both hot and cold water, has an automatic shut off, an electric heater built into it and is like the “Cadillac” of baptisteries. Sharpsburg was an old country church (a beautiful one I might say) and was one of the few that even had an indoor baptistery. The only shortcoming was that there wasn’t a drain in the baptistery so we had to get a pump, hook up one end of a long long hose to the pump and the other end out through the sanctuary, the library, the kitchen and into the church yard. One of the old elders had instructed us to be sure and stand nearby and watch the water as it was pumped out through the hose, which we did…faithfully…well up to a point.
After about 30 minutes of standing and watching water being pumped out of a rubber hose us two young, smart know it alls decided that continuing to watch water drain into the church yard was not only beneath our dignity but worse than watching paint dry. So, after a while we went back into the church, had a cup of coffee and let the pump finish the job. After our coffee, we decided I could go on home (it was late Saturday afternoon by this point) and Larry would go back to his home and would come back and put the equipment away when all the water was drained.
The next day I heard that Larry and I had created quite a mess. In our haste to ignore the wisdom of the old elder (who had been to this rodeo a few times before) we didn’t know that as the water got down to the low stages of draining the pump would suck air into the line and if not held outside would end up being jerked back inside the church. That’s exactly what happened. The brand new light colored carpet in the sanctuary had a permanent water stain as living proof of how stupid two city boys could be. The church was gracious and chalked it up to “boys will be boys”, not exactly a professional impression but certainly a humble one. The stain remained for many years, not only the carpet but on my heart.
When we’re young we think we know it all but nothing like a few lessons with “boots on the ground” to teach us humility and the wisdom of paying attention to our elders. We all make mistakes, since we all need others to be gracious and forgiving of ours we have to be the same when others make mistakes with us. Finally, nothing like a little lesson in recognizing our own stupidity to each us wisdom and humility. A lot of years have come and gone since that first indoor baptism for the two young city preachers but the lesson has never been forgotten, at least for this old somewhat (hopefully) wiser preacher today.
Have a good day!