Go!

“Baptizing a baby is the most dangerous and reckless act a set of parents can do with a child. If this child is one that you want, you need to stay as far away from the baptismal font as possible.”

I have said these words a couple dozen times in the last twenty some years of being a pastor.  I said them with all seriousness because I truly believe them.  We think as parents that we can look out for our children, do what is best for our children, and perhaps even plan and work towards a good future for our children.

And then, in Baptism, we go and give them to God!

Sure, we promise to do all we can to bring them up in the faith.  (Yet another dangerous act!) Yes, we do this partially out of cultural significance – at least in the church culture.  But sometimes we don’t think completely about what we are doing.  That’s why I make the statement that I do.

Hammock from Nicaragua
Hammock from Nicaragua

This hammock is “resting” in our garage for the winter.  It had spent the summer in our backyard on a stand that I had to move about 37 times when I was mowing the grass.  (Our house does not have a “lawn”.  I don’t do lawns.  I am lucky to say that most of the yard is grass, thank you, very much.)  It did get used quite a bit by different members of the household, but truth be told, I probably used it more than it’s owner – my daughter.

I spent many an afternoon laying in the hammock and just thinking.  I don’t sleep well in it so I rest…and when I rest, I think.  And some of my thoughts were about the very strings that were holding me up off the ground and giving me the rest that I needed at the moment.

Most would not think of a hammock as something associated with the word “Go.”  Stranger still might be the connection between “go,” “hammock” and “baptism.”  But because some words leave a lasting sticky residue in your mouth, I have no trouble at all with the connection.

This hammock from Nicaragua returned with my now senior in high school daughter when she returned from a mission trip in December and January of 2012.  I worried a lot while she was gone.  I marked the passing of her sixteenth birthday without her while she was away.  I prayed a lot while she was gone.  She turned off her phone when she arrived in Managua because she wanted to totally immerse herself in her work and I didn’t here from her directly for over two weeks.  Like I said, I prayed a lot while she was gone.

She did come home and she brought this great “‘restful” gift with her.

But the fact of the matter is that whenever I see that hammock…whenever I am attempting to rest in its web of strings, I remember that my wife and I stood before a congregation, let our District Superintendent sprinkle water on her head and let God claim her as one of God’s own.  Even then I knew how dangerous an act that was but I thought I could control things better.

Alas, God said, “Go.”

And I am blessed because my daughter listened.  Grayer…but blessed.

Advent Study and Invitations

Today (and hopefully every Sunday during Advent) I will be sharing with you an Advent Study that has been prepared for us by our bishop, Bishop Sandra L. Steiner Ball.

I encourage you to not only use this devotional material at home, but also to follow the Advent Invitation at the end of each devotion. I would love to hear – in the comments – how following these invitations are encouraging you to have a different kind of Christmas this year.

BTW – I am “giving up” at least one gift this Christmas – both giving and receiving – in order to help “Imagine No Malaria” and the “Nothing but Nets” campaign.  I will be sending the text message “MALARIA” to 27722 to donate $10 and I will be doing this during our worship time at First UMC each week during Advent. I truly believe that Christmas is about miracles for the world and one of my Christmas wishes is for this disease to be eradicated .

An Advent Study for the
Home
Prepared for the Family and Friends of the West Virginia
Conference
Advent 2012
Bishop Sandra L. Steiner Ball

Advent Service for our home
FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT THE PROMISE
THE READING: As we prepare to light the first candle on our Advent wreath, our thoughts go back to the promise of the coming of Jesus foretold by the prophets. As the followers of God waited for the day when
Jesus would come, they prepared themselves for the fulfillment of this promise. They had heard God speak through the prophets and could hardly wait for Jesus’ coming. Similarly, we find it difficult to wait for
Christmas. Let us take time to prepare ourselves for the promise of this great day.

THE SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 9: 2,6
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon
his shoulder, and his name shall be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Light the first purple advent candle)

BISHOP SANDRA’S ADVENT CALENDAR INVITATION 2012
December 2: As we begin this Advent Season I will allow God to be involved in all my preparations and activities. I will use the home Advent service. I will listen for God’s voice daily.
December 3: This season I will worship as much as possible with my home congregation and community. I will commit to daily prayer at lunchtime seeking to see where God is at work and seeking to join God there.
December 4: I’ll remember that Jesus calls us to not lose our childlike faith in God.  Today I will have some contact with children and allow myself to have fun with them on their level.
December 5: Bake (or buy) a Christmas treat and take it to a neighbor – Just to be a WV Blessing – sharing God’s love and care with someone else.
December 6: Today I will share a glory sighting, where I have seen God/Christ at work, with family and friends.
December 7: I will write a special “Good News” note to 2 persons I know to share just how much they are a blessing to me.
December 8: This day I will do something special for or with my family.

Interesting Advent Article

I ran across this article this morning and really found it interesting. I am pretty sure I knew the Advent wreath had not been around that long but did not realize that it only made it to the United States in the 30’s!

http://t.co/gUQaiUSA

That would mean that we actually have church members who may remember the first time they were used in a church. I wonder what kind of conversations popped up around this new tradition back then?