Tomorrow is a most important day for me…and even though I barely have a moment to breath right now (let alone time to write something seriously meaningful and appropriately commemorative), I decided to pause for a moment between my review of the infinitive construct in Biblical Hebrew and my drafting of the first chapter of my final paper to note the importance of tomorrow, December 13.
All day long people have been talking about how interesting it is that today is 12/12/12. I even know someone whose young daughter turned 12 today, on 12/12/12, which is actually kind of cool. But for me, the date that still resonates strongest in my life is 12/13/2009. That, my friends, was the day that I was baptized at the Calvary Baptist Church. If you want to read about the event itself, you can click here…but if you have a moment, I would like to share just a few words about that moment from the perspective of three years after that day.
You see, a baptism is a moment in time, yes, but particularly an adult baptism, and a baptism like this one (that was, well, not my first) is more like a single pinpoint in a long line. There was everything that went before, and now there is everything that comes after. The before is easy; hindsight is so clear. And everything else…well, we shall just have to wait and see.
I just can’t believe that it has been only three years. A lot of living, a lot of discernment, a lot of laughter and tears and friendship and a whole lot of work have filled those three years. I have come many miles (miles in the Robert Frost sense of miles) since that day when, putting all fear of water aside, I accepted the most important lesson of my life — that I do not belong to myself nor to the people around me or even to the demands of this world. I belong to God. I knew even then that there was something more that was required of me. I still don’t really know what that is, and right now I can only take the demands of that call minute by minute (particularly in these last days of my first semester in seminary). All I know is that I must continue to listen and to move my feet when called. (And that probably means getting back to that paper).
You know, I can still feel everything about that day.
Everyday, if I pause and I close my eyes, I can still feel that warm welcoming water. I can close my eyes and feel the confidence and the faith of my pastor (who had only moments before learned about my deep terror of the water), and I can feel the love of the people in the sanctuary. I can feel the strength and dare I say it, the courage, that came from that public commitment that day. And I can feel the intense joy as we celebrated together.
Everyday, that public act of community and faith calls me to be better — to be more loving, to be more forgiving, to be more kind, to be more open, to be more hospitable, to be more faithful. Some days I succeed, and offer more. Other days, I am all too human.
Everyday, my baptism challenges me to be a better disciple, to live more in faith, to testify to that faith through the way I live my life. Again, some days I succeed, and some days I am all too human.
Everyday, I remember with deepest gratitude just what my baptism means. And everyday I look ahead and see that there is a journey, but really don’t know how long the miles or what direction the road will take me. And some days I succeed by taking another step. And other days, I am all to human.
But the great lesson of Advent, for me, is the one that I am blessed to sing every time I participate in a performance of Handel’s Messiah: the words of Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The fact that our God became flesh, the fact that we can come to faith through a communal act like baptism, well, that makes those human days a little more bearable.
So, as I study and write and feel all the anxiety of my end of semester activities, I’ll take a little time tomorrow to do some remembering. I’ll remember all these things between verb charts and discussions of the historical Jesus.
There are indeed, in so many ways, miles to go before I sleep. But, as Mr. Frost so rightly put it, I also have promises to keep. And one of those includes remembering tomorrow and every other day, just why I am here.