Footsteps in Faith: Diversity apparent at baptisms

| June 4, 2010 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Maj.) Richard  Graves
516th Signal Brigade, 311th Signal Command

GravesIt should have been a Sunday like any other Sunday, but special in that there would be a baptism that morning.

The unusual thing about this Sunday, in addition to the fact that there had already been one baptism each Sunday for the two proceeding Sundays, was that there were two baptisms scheduled for this particular Sunday.  

Preparations for this service weren’t much different than the usual preparations for a single baptism. Everything was pretty much doubled: two certificates, two candles, two sets of sponsors, two sets of parents. 

There were twice as many last-minute phone calls and twice as much water. It was going to be a liturgical baptism service, so there would be sprinkling and no need for gallons. 

As the service progressed and the baptisms were completed, I couldn’t help but notice some irony that was present in the service. 

First, judging by names, of the two children baptized, one was of Scottish descent and the other Irish — two Celts! 

The second ironic twist was that the chaplain performing the ceremony was of English ancestry.

The third ironic twist was that the chaplain of English ancestry performing the baptism was Lutheran (a German Protestant denomination), and the children were baptized into the Lutheran Church.

Assisting the pastor was an Anglican chaplain with a French surname who was born in Haiti, and the accompanist for the service that morning was a Filipina.

One of the readers for the day was married to a Pole, who happened to be handing out bulletins in the back of the chapel. The other readers and gentleman helping with the communion service were of German extraction. 

Following the service, snacks were provided by an Armenian whose family had travelled to the U.S. via Lebanon as a result of persecutions in their home country.  

I don’t think I have ever seen diversity demonstrated in such a quiet, yet powerful way, since the final scene in Sally Field’s movie “Places In the Heart,” where it shows all of the characters in the movie receiving communion together as a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

And is that diversity not what we are all about as Americans? 

Whatever our background, whatever our nationality, whatever the reasons for ourselves or our forbears coming to this nation, we are all here now.  

And, we are all (at least in that service on that Sunday) of a single mind and purpose: Soldiers and family members, dedicated to lives of service to our nation and our loved ones and to bringing those two children into a closer and more connected family and group.

So may it be, as we go out into the world, and about our business, that we remember the commonalities and ties that bind us together, and proceed with one mind.

Let us continue to do all that we can to make this nation of diverse peoples a unified one where all are welcome and accepted and encouraged to use the gifts and talents that they possess — and be allowed to use those abilities to the fullest for the betterment of all. 

Peace and blessings to all throughout the rest of the week.

CHaplain (MAJ.) Richard  Graves516th Signal Brigade, 311th Signal CommandIt should have been a Sunday like any other Sunday, but special in that there would be a baptism that morning.The unusual thing about this Sunday, in addition to the fact that there had already been one baptism each Sunday for the two proceeding Sundays, was that there were two baptisms scheduled for this particular Sunday.  Preparations for this service weren’t much different than the usual preparations for a single baptism. Everything was pretty much doubled: two certificates, two candles, two sets of sponsors, two sets of parents. There were twice as many last-minute phone calls and twice as much water. It was going to be a liturgical baptism service, so there would be sprinkling and no need for gallons. As the service progressed and the baptisms were completed, I couldn’t help but notice some irony that was present in the service. First, judging by names, of the two children baptized, one was of Scottish descent and the other Irish — two Celts! The second ironic twist was that the chaplain performing the ceremony was of English ancestry.The third ironic twist was that the chaplain of English ancestry performing the baptism was Lutheran (a German Protestant denomination), and the children were baptized into the Lutheran Church.Assisting the pastor was an Anglican chaplain with a French surname who was born in Haiti, and the accompanist for the service that morning was a Filipina.One of the readers for the day was married to a Pole, who happened to be handing out bulletins in the back of the chapel. The other readers and gentleman helping with the communion service were of German extraction. Following the service, snacks were provided by an Armenian whose family had travelled to the U.S. via Lebanon as a result of persecutions in their home country.  I don’t think I have ever seen diversity demonstrated in such a quiet, yet powerful way, since the final scene in Sally Field’s movie “Places In the Heart,” where it shows all of the characters in the movie receiving communion together as a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. And is that diversity not what we are all about as Americans? Whatever our background, whatever our nationality, whatever the reasons for ourselves or our forbears coming to this nation, we are all here now.  And, we are all (at least in that service on that Sunday) of a single mind and purpose: Soldiers and family members, dedicated to lives of service to our nation and our loved ones and to bringing those two children into a closer and more connected family and group.So may it be, as we go out into the world, and about our business, that we remember the commonalities and ties that bind us together, and proceed with one mind.Let us continue to do all that we can to make this nation of diverse peoples a unified one where all are welcome and accepted and encouraged to use the gifts and talents that they possess — and be allowed to use those abilities to the fullest for the betterment of all. Peace and blessings to all throughout the rest of the week.

Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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