Who am I? I am a daughter and sister, but not always a great one. I love my family dearly, but I am pretty bad at remembering to call regularly and check in on how everyone is doing. I am a professional, usually. I work hard at being a good leader and example, but too often I allow myself to fall into idle gossip and complaining. I am an American, but not the best. I consider it a privilege to live in this country, though I frequently fail in my civic duties.
A fisherman casts his net in a wide arc upon the service of the water. As it begins to sink below the surface the boat slowly moves to trawl the net under the surface of the sea. It creates a large pocket like the mouth of a whale as it scoops up everything in its path. Eventually, when it seems weighted and full, or at least the set time has passed, they begin to haul in their load.
When the Church cannot meet as it is in the habit of doing, when we resort to prerecorded messages and electronic means of staying connected, when the very house of worship built by the faithful is emptied out, it causes us to think beyond the effects of a virus and the desire to protect the vulnerable.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). Most scholars believe this line used by St. Paul is part of an ancient baptismal hymn. You can imagine it being sung out by a gathering of the people of God as the newly baptized rises from the water. Its poetic words form a call to a new life, a life free from the terrors of the grave, free from futility and aimless wandering. Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
We all ought to love the story of Nicodemus and his conversation with Jesus in John chapter 3. It is a fitting text for modern readers of the Word of God and plays well with our own understanding and practice of the faith. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and like all the Pharisees of his time the discussion of Jesus was first and foremost on his mind. He was not a figure anyone was going to ignore.
Every time I read the story of Jesus coming to the Jordan to be baptized, I imagine Him standing in the crowd. You could not pick Him out. His pronoun would not be uppercase. He would look like everyone else really; bland, dirty clothing, smelling like a train car in France, a fly whizzing around in his hair.
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.
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?
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