Church Stuff-More or less

Does the church make sense or do we make it too hard for people to come in? I think yes and yes and the task then is to make it easier. Maybe for someone out there, this will be the case. I write as a Lutheran (or, perhaps a Lutherpalian) although I might seem out of the mainstream from time to time. That's okay, isn't it? Let's blog on.

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Location: Northport, Long Island, United States

Contrary to what Google will tell you, I have been blogging for several year, right here. Look for Churchstuff-moreorless. life was a hell of a lot easier when you could talk to someone to get help. Now, you can't do it on the telephone, you can't do it on the internet. Life was easier and made more sense because people actually cared. Now they will screw you as quickly as they will help you. Unfuck the world.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Come on in

I recently read an article on baptism in the July issue of Soujourner's, a magazine which you absolutely have to read, and it really struck a nerve.

I must confess that, as a pastor, most of our time preparing for baptism is spent working with the parent or parents who are presenting their child for the sacrament. I worry about the practical things-water, a candle, a towel, anointng oil etc. I hate to say this but alot of the other stuff is rote. But the author of the article has made me realize what is realy at stake here.

Too many people see baptism as an obligation, often a family or social obligation. We don't always give a lot of thought to what we are actually committing to, the vows which we are making.

If walking wet, as someone wiser than I once called it, is to mean anything in this life, or the next, we have to take baptism seriously. We have to allow our baptism to set the tone for our life as Jesus' sister or brother (isn't that what baptism makes us?). I mean, it's serious stuff. It's life changing stuff and we sure better act like it is. It should mean more to us than guilting us into going to church. It means taking what we get in church out into the world and making that place better for all concerned.

Oh, yeah, the quote:
Water, words, community. Offering our child back to God. We would stand with Abraham at the sacrifice. We would give her to a God who models the cross. We would invite her to listen for a voice calling in the night, to vigil, to put herself at risk, to leave family and friends, to speak clearly a truth for which one can be executed. We would thereby invite her into the risks we have already elected and, by God’s grace, still will elect to take with our own lives. In the act of baptism we would wash away the possibility that our concern for her might justify a diminishing of our own obedience to our Lord’s perverse ethic of vulnerability and gain through loss.


Blogger Debbie said...

I too read this article with awe!

In our church, we have a running commentary on which baptisms will be what we call a "splash and dash." Unfortunately it is a large majority of families who feel they MUST baptize their child to insure that they will go to heaven. Often we do not see the child again until Sunday School (maybe)....First Communion (almost always)....and then again at Confirmation.

I see this trend as the church's problem...for we are a church which often does not feel comfortable calling someone when we haven't seen them for a while (Gosh, I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable for not coming to church!).

But the truth is that at the child's baptism, the congregation also takes on the responsibility of helping the parents. As a congregation...we pledg to join together with the parents to help that child grow in faith.

This article pushed the envelope a lot further than my own thoughts about baptism. We usually think of a baptism as being an act of salvation...a protection of some sorts. And yet, what we are really doing is baptizing in the way of the cross. There IS a possibility that this baptism could cause physical danger for the one who is baptised. There are certainly times when the baptized will be ostracized because of the faith they hold dear.

I guess that I have begun to understand that giving a child in Baptism should never be the easiest thing we did for our child, instead it should be one of the hardest things.

In Christ,

4:41 PM  
Blogger David said...

Perhaps one of the difficulties is that we really don't seem to preach baptism in our congregations any more. Baptism does not end with a warm towel and a lit is a life long event that people should be reminded of often. I wonder how many church goers even know the date of their baptism?

Walking wet, or the splash in the bath as that wise person put it, is living out the baptismal covenamt each and every day. Continually dying to sin and rising as a new creation in Christ. It means living in community with all of God's people, walking by faith and not by sight. It means loving our neighbor as Jesus first loved us, and it means that, just as the apostles were sent into the world by Christ, so too we are sent to proclaim the gospel. Just as we emphasize the water in baptism, we also need to emphasize the cross traced on our foreheads.

That is the message missing all too ofetn on Sunday morning, that baptism is a once in a lifetime event that takes a lifetime to live out, dying and rising one day at a time.

Great start to your blog. I look forward to reading more.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say briefly: Best! Useful information. Good job guys.

7:41 PM  

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