One by one the children poured small cups of water into the baptismal bowl during Children’s Time on Sunday. “Just simple tap water,” Renee told them. And yet this ordinary water becomes an agent for transformation through hands and hearts in the sacrament of baptism.
As an adult onlooker, I was touched by the baptism that took place in the service that morning. I was especially moved by the inclusion of congregational children in the acts of preparation. In the Mennonite tradition, baptism is indeed a community affair – marking also church membership and the personal choice to “wrestle” together with others in following Jesus as a way of life.
During WorshipArts, following the service, the children did not have much to say about the baptism ritual. However, they worked with intent and care as they used watercolor paints to wash over the self-portrait outlines they had created last week. As the colors transformed their images, they noted (with surprise and sometimes dismay) the unpredictable ways the wet paint flowed and changed the identities they had fashioned. They, of course, didn’t appear to consciously associate this with the earlier baptism they had witnessed, but I couldn’t help but feel grateful for this subtle, yet valuable, contribution these children were bringing to my own understandings of Believer’s Baptism in the Mennonite faith.