Reading from the book of Luke, the 3rd chapter and 16th verse, “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire”
No matter your religion the act of baptism has undoubtedly crossed your path at some point & time in life. The reasoning and outcome of this practice has been debated for years but we’re not going to cross that bridge here. The purpose of this piece is to share with you, the reader, another aspect of religion in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwest Virginia.
As a child I attended Church on a regular basis with my parents and went through the normal steps of following such a religion including the act of baptism. I’ll never forget standing on the bank of Naked Creek as a youngster awaiting my turn to be plunged into those chilly waters and feel the arms of trusted elders raise me back into the world. The water was cool, the stones under my feet and the elder’s arms made me feel secure, and the Preacher’s words touched my heart. I can only imagine that the same was felt years ago as the mountain folks went through the act as I had.
The traditional “old timey” baptism consisted of: a natural pool of water, Church members playing old favorites and singing, and of course, the folks “doin’ the dunkin’”. The baptisms of yesteryear have evolved into an act consisting of all the usual suspects, with the exception of the natural water. Many of today’s baptisms take place in a pool that has been erected in a location inside the Church. If there’s one thing I can find that I would change about the modern baptism, it’s the location of the practice. There’s nothing like the sound of familiar voices making a joyful noise amongst the sound of the wind whistling through the trees. There’s just something about the cool water from a mountain creek flowing over your body to awaken your senses.
Mark 1:9-11 “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”