Tumbling in the Sand
Today, JJ, you will be baptized.
I wanted to take a moment to tell you about what this means and what you can expect.
First of all, when you are baptized, you will encounter God.
In the water and the Word
in the anointing and the Spirit
you will hear God lay claim to you.
God will say, “You are mine.”
God will claim you as God’s very own child.
God’s love will wrap around you in a new sort of way
and you will have a promise — the promise — that God will never abandon you.
Now, I want to warn you … this will kill you.
To not be your own, to be claimed by God,
is to die to yourself
to die to your own false desires
and to be born new to who God truly created you to be
to be born again.
And, I want to tell you that this dying thing
and being born again thing
— it’s hard to do.
But it is so very, very good
Because we learn to let go of control and trust in grace.
And we learn a lot about love when we do this
— and we are changed.
But, here’s the thing I really need to tell you about.
This baptism thing?
Even though we only do it once — it’s not really a one time and done deal.
You will not only hear God once telly you that you belong to God.
God’s not going to claim you and your life just once—
No, this baptism thing is a journey
this baptism thing is a way of life
this baptism thing — it’s something we experience and practice and try to live our whole lives.
And, I have to confess — we’re not always very good at it.
We’re not always good at renouncing evil in this world.
We’re not always good at renouncing powers that work against God.
We’re not always good at remembering that our value, our attentions, our priorities,
should be shaped by the love of God’s claim on each of our lives.
We’re not always very good at dying to ourselves — at practicing trust and letting go — at being transformed by grace and love.
That’s why we have each other. So that we can grow together and help each other along the way.
And that’s why we have confession and communion — to remind us of God’s love for us
and to strengthen us to die and rise everyday.
And, finally that’s why we call it practice — spiritual practice —
because if we got it all right, we wouldn’t need to practice.
JJ, I have one more thing to warn you about.
This baptismal journey we are on — this practice of love and grace —
there are really no gaurantees about what will be.
Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you.
It’s just like the author of 1 John says — “What we will be has not yet been revealed.”
We have no idea what the future will be, exactly.
Though, if we’re really following as disciples of Jesus and children of God, it’s likely not always going to be easy and it’s going to be quiet a ride
of learning to trust in grace and love and power so different from this world.
We are, after all, following a path similar to that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day and Theresa of Calcutta, Martin Luther King Jr and Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi and Justin the Martyr.
But, here’s what we do know — and this makes all the difference:
We follow a God into that unknown future
who loved us to the very end
who went to the cross and grave for us
who was not destroyed by death, but destroyed death itself.
And so we can trust that whatever comes our way, whatever may seem to destroy us or want to claim our lives,
We know that this God will never let us go and will love us beyond any end — transforming us to new life.
So, JJ, ready or not — welcome to the journey of a lifetime.