In Galatians 5, Paul returns to a central tenet of the gospel message: “For freedom Christ has set us free.”
His tirade on freedom states: “…through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Yesterday was quite a day. This morning continues that. Let’s just say it has been WET:
- The rain continues this morning.
- Tears were shed when I learned of the death of a former congregant and friend of mine from Oklahoma City, Dan Orza – a faithful follower of these Morning Reflections, often commenting and LIKING posts.
- I washed my hands of a toxic friendship yesterday. It was a hard decision, but one that needed to be done. Perhaps this will allow for more room for goodness and God to work.
- Tears were again shed as I resourced a church and got telling a very moving story of Baptism and God claiming us, even though the young man in the story did not feel or understand God’s grace. It was an example of a deep Presbyterian understanding of baptism and how GOD claims, GOD acts, GOD saves. (I think the waterworks came because of how deep I know the reality of his baptism affected this young man – years later…it may have saved his life).
- I encountered a powerful reflection and artistic representation of baptism from a fellow minister in MVP, Rev. Cathy Johnson, a “Glimpse of Grace” that boldly declared: Drop by drop, Hand by hand, We are claimed and named and redeemed, And sent forth to “live wet”. If you aren’t familiar with Cathy’s powerful ministry, now is the time to plug in! Email her if you would like to be added to her list.
- Tears flowed again as I read this morning of the death of Mother Capers of Wallingford PC in Charleston, SC, and who was instrumental in my friend and fellow GP colleague Jerrod Lowry discovering his call to ministry. When he said “I wish that I had the chance to tell her how her words and love impacted me. I want to feel sad. Instead I rejoice that her baptism is complete!…Rest well, Mother Capers!” the overwhelming nature of yesterday came back again.
So it was a WET day.
Baptism is a funny thing. We boldly declare that the old life has passed…a new life has begun. And yet sin continues to follow us. Pain and sadness linger. Hurt abounds. Brokenness of this world takes hold. And yet we baptize. We declare the reality that we are claimed by God. And we await the day those vows, those promises made at baptism, can become a full reality.
For freedom, Christ has set us free.
Baptism is both a beginning, and a promise of action.
I mentioned in yesterday’s reflection how much of today’s church is being held hostage – being held by our own fear. The yoke of this slavery is almost too much to bear. Living in the Church of 2019 is sometimes brutal and challenging. It is not just struggling churches, but struggling individuals — to make end’s meet, to find true freedom, to experience the new life in Christ truly when chaos, confusion, poverty all swirl around us.
Paul slams his message of freedom home when, in dramatic fashion, he jests: “If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.” If you read Paul closely you discover Paul’s primary concern is knitting up the body of Christ as a relational body, not become a bastion of demonic isolation.
Freedom in Christ means exactly that. It means not being strangled by the prejudices of the past, but embraced by a new ethic: a Law of Love. Wasn’t that the whole point of the cross? Paul’s point is well taken. Maybe what we need is a focus on what is essential: that old rugged cross. Some may want to forget that. But I am clinging to that cross. It is where I find the water of baptism flowing most powerfully. It is where the story of redemption begins.
But it is not where the story ends.
I continue to LIVE WET.
P.S. Thanks Cathy