Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Just another boring old baptism......

I went to a church service where there happened to also be a baptism. I didn’t think too much of it because really, church and baptisms in my mind go hand in hand. It was for a baby; didn’t think too much about that either. It was in Spanish, I had to think a little bit more with that one in order to understand. The elements however were the same; there was water and the word. It was the same old baptism ritual that I am used to seeing in every church I have ever been in before; put a little water on the babies head and say a few words and bang! You have been “baptized!” Done! 
This time though it was different. Everything stayed the same, but I saw something new and amazingly exciting. As soon as the pastor began to pour water on the baby and say the words, there was a huge rush towards the font. Kids came running up curious about what was going on, adults gathered round to get a better picture. There was a huge movement toward the font. A HUGE movement! This was something new for me. It was in that moment that I became a little misty because I realized that this is always what a baptism should be. A desperate rush to the font where we are made new. A daily returning to that place where by the grace of God, the old Adam is drowned. That place of grace and mercy ever flowing until that day when we die and our baptism is complete. I marveled at how these kids and parents had it right. They didn’t know any great theology. They just wanted to see. They wanted to be a part of it, not just get it over with.
That night as I drove home I thought about it all as I watched the sky fire up with brilliant colors of red, orange, purple, and blue. It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at and to think, “Wow! What a sky! What a God.” I even caught myself whispering those words to myself. No night sky is like another, and yet we tire so easily of them. We have made mundane that which God never tires of to do for us. At the heart of all my awe and amazement is a BIG God who transcends our pitiful need for emotion and never tires of doing what we label old or normal, he does them over and over again for us! He paints the sky with fire, he comes down in water and word and brings forth new life. He draws people to him to come and see and wonder what this thing that has happened is. He makes all things new! We can make what is new old, but He never tires of loving us, and so he never stops making new. 
I know I have used this quote before but I love it and it addresses what is quite possibly the greatest problem in the American Church; boredom. G.K. Chesterton says this in his book “Orthodoxy,” he says; “But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun.; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic monotony that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” 
Thank God that he never tires because we would be lost and without hope if he allowed himself to feel even an ounce of boredom or tiredness. Perhaps it isn’t even so much that he enjoys doing it, but perhaps, maybe, just maybe, he does it because he enjoys when we enjoy it. He hangs the sun every morning without applause or great fanfare but perhaps every so often he delights to find someone driving along who catches themselves in the midst of something that could only have been created by a creator and they marvel at it. He opens the font and pours forth radiant blessing not because he has to but because he wants to, because he loves us, because he wants to make all things new for us.  

Revelation 21:4-6
New King James Version (NKJV)
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[a] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
And He said to me, “It is done![b] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Word to the wise...

So today I got to talk to the deacons and deaconesses about visitations. I love this by the way. So I was trying to show them how they might apply a portals of prayer (we have them in Spanish) to many different situations even though the devotion for the day only speaks of one issue. I didn’t get far because we got to talking about something else. I tried to ask them how they would apply the devotion to someone who has just found out that they are going to die. They amazed me... “Oh we don’t talk about death when someone is dying” So my next question was; “Well... why not?” “we want to build up their self esteem” then I said; “So you just say something like, ‘oh don’t worry! You will be all better soon!’?” To which they said; “Oh yes it is better not to talk about death even if you know they are going to die” I had no idea!!!!! Here I was thinking that these people are so healthy in their social relationships and have such a healthy perspective on death, but what I wasn't seeing was that they just weren’t talking about it. 
So today, we talked. We talked about clothing yourself in scripture and going to battle with the word of God. We talked about fearlessly entering into a house of death with the word of life. At the heart of what my class was saying was fear. Not that they feared their own death but they feared how people may receive the Gospel. It has always fascinated me how we delicately cradle the dying and ease them into the grave when we should be taking up the sword of righteousness and fighting off any fears, doubts, or misconceived ideas they may have. We will die, we don’t need to delicately walk around that. Jesus died, we cannot walk so delicately with that. With Christ’s death and triumphant victory over sin, death, and the devil we may fearlessly march forward into battle holding the cross of Christ saying, “this is not the end. My Lord does not remain silent in death therefor while I am with the living, I shall proclaim all the more loudly that my Savior lives and because he lives I too shall live.” This is a message I hope and pray may begin to permeate the lives of those who are learning in the church here in the D.R.. I pray this message banishes what has been accepted as socially normal and allows them to speak the resurrection in the face of death and not words of false hope.
Job 19:25-26
New King James Version (NKJV)
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God