One of the greatest privileges I am given as a pastor is to be able to baptize a brother or sister in Christ. To be the one called to speak those simple words and pour the water over their head is a profound joy for me. These days everyone has their own ideas of what a wedding ought to look like and what sort of things you need to do to make it special, it is rare to even have a wedding in the church these days and normally some romantic setting designed for the perfect photo sessions.

Happy New Year! Recently, my brother Jay and I recorded our “Favorite Films of 2019” episode for Saints and Cinema. It is not really a best-of (though we thought the films were pretty good), because we have not seen everything put out last year. We are not the Golden Globes or the Academy Awards or paid film critics. We see a lot of movies, but we are limited (it should go without saying) to what we have time to see.

Who am I? It is the question of the age, in an age where we can so easily address or dress up the answer! We change our bodies like we used to change our wardrobe to fit our feelings. Do not laugh or mock, people are really confused. It is not sin, but the result of being sinners. What is the difference between sex changes and eunuchs, body builders taking steroids, or divorcing your family to marry the one you now love?

He heard it a million times from his mom; son of God, born of a virgin. When he was younger, he did not really know what all those words meant. Everyone was nice to him and he had a special place when they went to temple. He remembered the old men looking at him with tears in their eyes, and the widows would touch his little shoulder when he walked by. They told him that he was born of the Spirit, and there was much he would do in his lifetime. When he was little, he tried to imagine what it was he would get to do.

Most of you have heard the story of how I cane to be a pastor. It was not my childhood dream or a sense of duty or something like that. It happened slowly and with great resistance on my part. It came through a growing love for theology and a deep desire to know more. The central question I sought answers for was the fundamental inquiry which has long been at the heart of Christian theology. It is, quite simply, “What must I do to be saved?”

Numbers seem to define us. How old are you? How many years of schooling have you done? How tall are you? How fat? How much can you lift? How many calories did you eat? How far away is your house? How many lovers have you had? How many hours does it take to get to mom’s? And of course, how much money have you made, how many true friends do you have, how many years left do you have?