Candidacy Interview Questions

During my entrance interview with the Candidacy Committee I was asked a couple of questions for which I should have been better prepared. The questions below could easily be part of my witness in the future and a coherent answer is called for.

Tell us about your baptism

This question arises because I was baptized a year and a half ago, as an adult, at the church that endorsed my beginning the candidacy process. The committee may not see many people who actually remember their baptism.

I had grown up in the Methodist church, was confirmed there, married there, and even became a Certified Lay Speaker. I also first recognized the Holy Spirit working in me there. But no one had ever asked if I was baptized. If I ever was, I don’t recall my parents telling me and I have no knowledge of Godparents, which I would have had. I know both of my brothers were christened, which is generally accepted as baptism, and had Godparents. If it had ever happened, however, it would have been in that name and life that I no longer accepted as mine.

During Lent in 2011, I heard that communion was supposed to be for the baptized. I prayed long and hard about it. I felt that I had to quit taking communion and my soul was troubled because I had done so in the past. Pastor John noticed immediately and asked why. After a few discussions, we decided that he would baptize me on Pentecost. Immediately upon that decision, my soul again found peace. I continued to study baptismal beliefs and practices so that I would be prepared and so that I could understand my own beliefs about it.

I invited most of the congregation to attend and had a spiritual friend be my sponsor (godfather). The ceremony (liturgy) is filled with symbolism, but, for me, the most moving part was accepting the gift of God’s grace and finding a right-standing before Him in my proper name.

It was, at once, both a death and rebirth. The old identity, symbolized by my old name, was washed away in the water. A new person was created, symbolized by my proper name. But it was so much more than that.

I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and “received” the Holy Spirit many years before, but this was a gift unlike any other. Somehow the full realization that I had been called into God’s family descended upon me – actually more like rose up in me. He was giving me a share of His Kingdom, just as Jesus had. I am His daughter – Jesus is my brother. I am no longer a transgender person in church; I am a child of God – the child He made me to be. I am not an abomination; I am loved and wanted.

And then, as my “first communion” drew to an end, John asked me to commune him. I don’t think he even understands, on intended, what that meant to me. In a sense, it was a second baptism, perhaps more of an induction; this time into what Martin Luther called the “priesthood of all believers.”

How could I not serve this God? He does not need to ask; “Here am I, send me.”

How do you feel during communion

I admit that this question caught me off-guard and that my answer sounded a bit trite. I said that it allows me to experience the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. While this is certainly true, it is so much more than that, perhaps more than my grasp of the English language can express.

Several years ago, I was within hours of ending my life; I had lost all hope. And then a friend, with few resources herself, sensing my plight, managed to enlist others and arrange for me to start over. She brought me here to the Boston area and gave me encouragement that I could go on. There is no doubt in my mind that this was God’s hand at work, even though He used someone who denies being Christian.

So I know how Lazarus felt emerging from the darkness of the tomb to find his Lord standing there. It happened to me.

To say that I experience the death and resurrection of Jesus is understatement. The promise of eternal life embodied in the Eucharist (communion) is very real to me. The “proof” that my twin brother, Thomas, requested has been given to me. I was dead and now I live again, and Christ lives in me. I cannot keep Him to myself.

For me, communion is not symbolic, it is reality. Receiving the elements is a constant reminder of life. To offer the elements, the body and blood of my Lord, is to pass on that life that I have been given – the life that God alone can give.

In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus is trying to explain His position as God’s bread of life. The people just didn’t get it, at least not then; many don’t get it today either. Communion must be experienced, not talked about or studied. The bread and wine – body and blood – bring the spirit of Christ into our bodies, minds, and souls.

As wonderful as the experience of the Lord’s Supper is, it is even more intense and real when one is allowed to serve it – at least for me. At this moment, Christ enters me to serve his meal again; for the briefest moment I become Christ.

It’s not specifically spelled out in the Bible, but I suspect that when the disciples first celebrated communion, they finally got what Jesus had been trying to tell them.

There can be only one response to this: my life was given to me by God’s grace; I need to give my life back in service. There is no option, nor a desire to have one. To not serve is simply impossible.