In the summer of 1956, a young mother whose newborn son was about to have minor surgery paced back and forth in the kitchen of the small apartment she shared with her husband and their two other children. The operating room was booked, the surgeon was scheduled, the pre-op procedures were completed, but nagging deep memory told her that she could not offer this precious gift to the surgeon’s knife without first offering him to the Lord through the grace of baptism.
The last time she was in the church of her childhood was the day she presented her first born daughter for baptism some eight years before. There was no time now for repentance nor reconciliation, she needed grace and she needed it today.
Less than two blocks away was a small brick church with an odd name and a newly installed pastor. Racked with guilt, fear, and anxiety, her hands trembled as she dialed the phone; 448-4000. Ten minutes later, the young pastor stood in her kitchen bringing comfort, acceptance, and the words of grace that accompany the sacrament of baptism.
Impossible to ignore was the precocious, inquisitive four-year-old brother whose relentless energy filled the room. Pastor Emil Simon surveyed the young miscreant and queried, “What about that one? Has he been baptized?” And so, in the kitchen sink of a two bedroom apartment across the street from a church I’d never set foot in, I was given to the Lord on July 24, 1956.
Not surprisingly, my mother eventually joined the congregation that loved her before they even knew her, that responded to her need without asking anything in return. We went to Sunday school, youth fellowship, and church camp at Chetek and Inmormindo.
Like so many other young people, I was confirmed and quickly thereafter discovered girls and rock ‘n roll and faded from the sight of my Moravian extended family. Thirty or more years came and went before my siblings and I returned to that familiar old sanctuary to celebrate the life of the woman who first brought us there. Again, we returned as strangers seeking grace and again the community responded with grace abundant.
A dozen years later, I found myself kneeling at the front of that very same sanctuary and felt the grace flow as Bishop Kay Ward laid her hands on the same thick skull that had been so generously sprinkled in a kitchen sink a few hundred feet away so many decades ago.
Grace upon grace upon grace, these are the hallmarks of my Moravian journey. If there is anything that I can do to help you on yours, I can be reached five days a week at 952.448.4000.
The Rev. Michael R. Eder is pastor of Chaska Moravian Church in Chaska, Minn. In the lead photo, Mike (at right) during a baptism ceremony at Chaska. Above: Mike as a toddler.
From the April 2013 Moravian Magazine