Tonight at church we got to celebrate in the baptism of a young man who has come a long way. Southwest Central had the blessing of being a small part of the journey of someone who truly is living the call of Jesus.
M, as we shall call him, was into a Hindi family who loves and cares for him. But as he moved to America for school, found a minister to learn about Christianity, and moved towards a new faith, life became more complicated, and yet clearer at the same time. As M moved towards this new faith, roommates who shared his tradition rejected him and left him homeless, and then his family in every showed despisal and anger and abandonment. And yet, he maintained his path on this journey. A journey towards Jesus. His reasons for continuing:
- Realizing that God has been on his side even when he wasn’t on Gods side
- Seeing the love of God present in people whom he brings together
- Realizing the goodness of God and the profound love of God through Jesus
- The joy of faith and the sacrifice of love in Christ.
As I watched him confess his faith and and accept Christ’s invite to a lifelong journey of faith, I couldn’t help but feel the presence of Ryan in my arms and share in M celebration and the movement of Gods kingdom, but recognizing that Gods kingdom will continue in the life of Ryan too. This was his first baptism that he was aware for, and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized and ponder the significance of this for him. I wonder what he sees and wonder what he thinks. But this is the future that yearn for for him and Aiden- not a thoughtless baptism or a rote life. I want him, like M, to choose his life with Christ and recognize the power of Christ’s love and the depth of His joy, but also the sheer sacrifice and denial of this world in that choice– but to still choose it with Gods people to walk alongside. I am grateful for M, for his faith, for the church, for the people who have surrounded him and cared for him. And I am grateful for all those people and the way they will shape Ryan and Aiden and shape their response to Gods pursuing love in Christ that surrounds them.
I waited to share my daily gratitude today because I just have not felt well, but more because I wanted to see how the day will go. I have been starting the day with gratitude but I also wanted to start thinking about appreciating what has happened during the day. So with that little reflection:
- My day off, or sick day at home. It was nice to be at home without kids and other people and to do what I want that I think will make me feel better. I got to get outside a little which almost always helps me feel better when I am really congested and down and had a nice little hang out with my wife at her work to just sit and do nothing. Good sick day!
- Bringing lunch to Aiden and seeing his joy being around his friends. You don’t often see that same joy and exuberant at home, but I got a taste!
- Kids playing around after school and around here. Their joy is a gift that we all wish we could catch in a bottle!
I have little history in the churches of Christ. Even the first CofC I attended had a woman youth minister and had no problem having instruments in the church for non Sunday service things (actually a thing in most conservative CofC deeds!). So I am not quite the person that would otherwise see movement in our tradition as momentous.
But today as my elders at our church disclosed that they want to complete the move that started 12 years ago towards a full set of voices and open preaching and song leading to women, I felt sheer joy and peace being present during the announcement. I noted the importance of that moment and moving towards this incredible goal. Perhaps not a goal, but a vision.
I noticed because it was the moment that our church decided to stand on the vision of the love of one another as the highest form or our community, and even more importantly, our church has decided that God speaks through all and that his Holy Spirit does not move with limits. Their decision is an invitation to God to move and speak and push and pull and whisper and shout to his body of believers at our place.
With this move, we say as a church:
Come Lord Jesus and whisper to us.
Come Lord Jesus and show us your love in ways we could not have seen before.
Come Lord Jesus and let us love beyond disagreements, preferences, opinions, race, and gender.
Come Lord Jesus and let us be an even greater reflection to those who come into our walls and in our buildings.
Come Lord Jesus, and speak afresh to us and don’t stop moving amongst us.
I am somewhat aware of the courage it takes to make these decisions, but I am humbly honored to be there as this change comes. There will be difficulties and struggles, but we have the opportunity to show our little girls as well as all other females in our church that their voice carries meaning- their voice may also now bear the Word and Spirit of God for his people. Amen, and I’m so glad to have been there for that.