Monday, July 23, 2007

An idea for rainy evenings

I don't know if others are like me, but if it has been a really rainy day I'm often sorely tempted to drive through the large puddles that gather on the side of roads next to the pavements (sidewalks) on my way home. If Anja is with me, I normally get bullied out of going where the spirit leads – through the puddle – but things are even more tempting if an unsuspecting pedestrian happens to be in the potential vicinity of the consequent 'tidal wave'.

I'll never forget the look on one chap's face in St Andrews as I looked back in my rear view mirror. Boy did I get him good!

Now, my point in writing this post: You've heard of 'drive-by shootings' I suppose?

For those boring, rainy evenings, I've developed a missionary and liturgical exercise to help wile away those tedious hours and at the same time to spread the joy of the gospel.

Namely, I wanted to recommend an evening of 'drive-by baptisms'.

All that is necessary for the performance of this rite:

  • A rainy evening with lots of puddles near pavements full of pedestrians
  • A car (preferably one fast enough to flee disturbed victims, er, baptism candidates, and one reliable enough not to break down at what could be a very inopportune moment).
  • Priestly costumes – or at least some kind of appropriate headwear.
  • A large crucifix
  • Brother Josh McManaway helpfully suggests the addition of appropriate bumper stickers on the car for added effect. For example: "God is my Pilot"; "He made me do it!"; "Car + Puddle = Baptism" etc.
  • A copy of 'Tilling's Drive-by Baptism Liturgy' ©™
  • Someone to drive, and someone else to repeat the liturgy from an open window on the pavement side of the car at the candidate. Optional extra would include a third person to perform the sign of the cross from the back window at the candidate.

Instructions as to the performance of the rite (including a free copy of 'Tilling's Drive-by Baptism Liturgy' ©™):

  1. The idea is to park next to a long stretch of road where you know there are plenty of puddles and pedestrians. In the interest of interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, this road could be situated near a Mosque, Synagogue or alternative Christian denomination of your choosing.
  2. Wait until the chosen baptism candidate pedestrian (hereafter the BCP) is almost aligned with a suitably large puddle.
  3. The driver then needs to get the timing right. This is crucial. Everything hinges on getting the poor bugger, er, BCP, covered by a convincing wave of dirty puddle water.
  4. Having thusly "baptised" the BCP, the second minister of the gospel then needs to perform the liturgy. To do this the driver needs to slow down a little so that the BCP can respond to the liturgy. Then the minister in charge of the liturgy needs to hold his upper body out of the open car window (or sunroof), hold high the cross, and repeat in a clear and loud voice:

    'In the Sacred Discharge of the Evangelistic Functions of the Most Holy Church, I hereby declare you Baptised in the Name of God, and include you into the world wide family of the Redeemed and Sanctified. And stop looking so angry you wet and filthy looking half drowned sinner. You've just been redeemed for goodness sake, you ungrateful worm! As it is written, "How beautiful are the wheels of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15)'

  5. At this point, the optional third minister can then perform the sign of the cross and mutter something about how Paul intertexually reworks material from Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15 in Romans 10. But speed-talk.
  6. Note: All must be wearing priestly looking headwear and should look suitably solemn.
  7. Drive away. Fast.
  8. Hold a thanksgiving meeting for helping turn the tide against secularism, and for re-Christianising the world once again with an altogether different tidal wave of baptismal power.



At 7/23/2007 2:12 AM, Anonymous Jim said...

If your idea were adopted the whole of England could shortly be 'baptized'! I say carry on!

At 7/23/2007 4:43 AM, Anonymous Judy Redman said...

Another essential that you forgot to mention is rear number plate obscured by carefully applied mud, so that you can't be reported to the local police. There is no way you are going to be able to pretend that this was an accident. :-)

Note that I am with Anja on this one. One of my major fears about walking the streets of Houston where the drainage system doesn't actually work because it is soooo flat was being drowned by a passing car.

It's easy to see that you don't belong to the Uniting Church in Australia where there is a ban on rebaptism and all clergy are strictly admonished to make sure that those being baptised have not been "done" before. :-)

At 7/23/2007 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the St. Andrews authorities. We have an open, unsolved case in which a man was blinded by a car that drove by and sprayed (intentionally?) bacteria laden-water into his eyes. We are sending Detective Jane Marple over to Germany. Please do her the courtesy of a dry, courteous welcome and provide your full cooperation.
If not, Judy Dench will send a rock hard Bond to beat you to a pulp with one of your fat textbooks.

At 7/23/2007 4:45 PM, Anonymous :mic said...

I come from a tradition that emphasizes Triune Immersion. . .

Does this require me to circle the block two extra times?

At 7/23/2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous Owen Weddle said...

So thats how many groups get such high number of "converts"...

At 7/23/2007 10:34 PM, Anonymous Jeremy Priest said...

Actually, the best time for this rite is just after it has stopped raining.
Moses knew this well: when the Egyptians went to cross the Red Sea it was still dry! Moses waited until they thought they were safe from the water! I wonder what Moses thought when he looked through his rear-view mirror! That's right, he did sing that song, didn't he?

At 7/23/2007 11:19 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

This is the key to revival, people. Lets get praying for rain, then baptising ...

At 7/23/2007 11:33 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

I don't think they want any more rain in the UK............ God is himself baptising those folk I think.

At 7/24/2007 10:34 AM, Anonymous Joey said...

Thanks for the tip. We have heavy rain here for a week and in a Buddhist country, this is a contextual way of doing missions fits perfectly with Buddhist fascination with water. It's good to have people being baptized, become Christian and do not have a hint how the hell it happened.

Now I have to look for that priestly looking head wear.

At 7/24/2007 10:54 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for the laughs!!

At 7/25/2007 2:57 PM, Anonymous W. Travis McMaken said...

To succesfully practice 'Indiscriminate Rain Baptism', one simply needs to send a duly ordained (whatever that means) person to the top of a tall building to make the sign of the cross (thereby blessing the falling water) and shout into a megaphone, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

At 11/16/2007 11:29 PM, Anonymous Kato said...

Hi Chris,
It's Kate Tennikoff here... In researching for my paper on Church and Sacraments I stumbled across your post. I should really stick a reference in my footnotes somewhere and see if Shane notices ;-)
You're hilarious!

At 12/22/2007 7:57 PM, Anonymous Jeremy Priest said...

I just posted a great video that I've characterized as a "Snow Plow Baptism." I'm uncertain as to the validity of the rite (being that it's with crystalized water), but it does certainly effect what it symbolizes: cold! Here's the link:

At 1/04/2008 7:48 PM, Anonymous Beth C. said...

Those priestly garments look quite Orthodox Christian--in which case the baptism should include Eucharist and Confirmation as well! That would require finding a puddle with some oil in it to consecrate, and tossing a bit of wafer and wine into each person's mouth.

Oh, and then there's the Triune triple-dipping issue, I think.

But I'm a Quaker so the whole issue is irrelevant to me... (it's just too much fun to join in and play with all of you)

(PS, I'm a total stranger from the US, found you in a Google search on another theological issue entirely. Come visit my blog if you want to exact revenge--I mean, visit and comment...)


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