Baptized Ash: The Stars, the moon & me

We are brief, like flowers, like a breath of air.

We are mortal, here one moment and gone the next.

It is amazing to think that the same God who is eternal, the one who created rocks and trees that last hundreds or thousands of years, the ones who crafted the heavens that seem to be billions of years old created us as temporal beings.

stars

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them? ” Ps 8:3

Death is real for us–it is a real part of our existence, but we our lives matter. God created us and then God sent Christ to us. Even though we are not perfect and live only a short while.

Christ baptized us, marking us, tagging us as His. Like writing a name on the bottom of a favorite toy, we are marked. Marked by the cross, reminded that God takes care of us and is particularly present to us. When we are baptized, we die with Christ, we rise with him, and we live into the fact that we are the be-loved children of God–adopted into God’s family, covenanted through Christ.

And this is important because our lives are short.

And we are not perfect–my 6 year old son has just realized he is not perfect, and he never will be. He shuts himself up in his room and cries about it. When he makes a mistake, he mourns it.

And because bad things happen in our lives, we have to deal with real things and real evil and God knows that we have to deal with all this.

Do you know what I do when my son cries forlornly all alone?

I go to him, I sit with him, I hug him and comfort him. I tell him I will love him no matter what. I know he’s not perfect, and that’s ok, because I love him.

Isn’t that what God did when we were sad, broken and alone ever-realizing our imperfection. God gathers us in Her arms, hugs & comforts us and tells us–we are not perfect, but God loves us no matter what–God loved us when we were Ash and will love us when we become Ash again.

Us humans wish we were perfect, but God made us something better than perfect–God made us loved.

I #believe in #miracles, and other weird #Christian things…

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Matthew+3:1-12&vnum=yes&version=nrsv

Ps. 2:7-8

7I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.

8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

baptism of the Lord

Brownson says that Baptism is not Salvation, but the promise of salvation. It is the faith in that promise, it is the acknowledgment that our God is a Promisekeeping God

Baptism particularizes the promise that God makes to the world.

Why?

God promises to love the world, to take care of it, to save it.  Baptism, adopts us into that promise, particularizing it into us…embracing us into the reality of Jesus Christ, making us part of it all…We are all children of God in general, baptism, makes us each children of God as individuals; Matt 28:19-20 baptize them in the name of the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit and teach them my commandments, and I will be with you always..making us effectively related to God (effectively changing all our last names to be Jesus Christ). Hence my name becomes Katy Jesus Christ–thus I become part of the body of God!

babies-diverse_istock_000010072649large1

Every single baby that is born is a miracle. Babies being born are so,

so miraculous…child-of-god

but your baby being born is a PARTICULAR miracle…Right? I mean all babies are amazing, but your baby (whether its yours, your friends, your child’s baby, if you have ownership) is SUPER-EXTRA AMAZING..because its your particular baby. Baptism is special for that same reason.

Baptism…and Communion are sacraments…for Presbyterians there are two such sacraments; which are another weird thing that Christians do.

That’s what makes a sacrament, a sacrament in the Presbyterian church a sacrament is that which Jesus enacted, commanded and then promised particular presence during…

This is my body broken for you…this is my blood of the new covenant

SONY DSC

That’s after all, what a miracle is…its seeing God’s particular presence in a particular circumstance, its when you don’t know how or when things happen, but they do, through God’s presence. Its different than magic, which is when you explain the unexplainable….Miracles are about grace-filled instances which happen through God making connections that we might not expect

Ever time we practice communion or baptism, God promises to be particularly present. God is present and loves us all the time, but the fact that God promises to be particularly present with these moments …make them miracles

Like a roof that needs to be fixed, and suddenly a bequest appears that covers it….like a lesbian couple who end up not getting married at the church but force the governing board to extend welcome to such a wedding…like having way, wayyyy too much work to do and suddenly a snow day gives you the extra time you need.

These moments are miracles, places where our humanity is insufficient, and yet God’s presences helps things to work out….

These moments are the difference between Spirituality & Religion

Spirituality is talking about who God is…and what God does in general…a generalized understanding of God and how it effects spiritual life. Spirituality is good…its practiced by most people, even those who don’t go to church.

Religion is (nothing more & nothing less) than the practice of God’s presence, the practice of miracles. The practice of seeings where God is present, participating it and then telling others about it. It is through this practice that we are joined together. We recognize and practice God’s presence, together.

body-of-christ

Its just like practicing family–practicing family can be as easy as having dinner together…you plan the dinner together, experience the dinner together and then discuss how dinner went (maybe with people who aren’t even your family)…Each of those steps are within the practice of the miracle that is family…

So too is communion…we prepare for communion declaring what it will be (how it binds us to God and eachother), then we practice it together, then we discuss how it went and what it means for our future…in this we practice the miracle of God’s presence. We do this every time we talk look for/experience/witness to God’s presence in our lives….

Let’s go practice some miracles….

(thanks to Barb Hedges-Goettl for the theology of Christ’s transformative presence in communion)

Why do we have these buildings for God?

Solomon built a temple, because he knew he couldn’t contain God.

Ironic as it is….

The Temple is empty, except for the 10 commandments, so that all the priest, and elders and leaders and everyone important can come into the temple for its dedication.

And the moment they call on God (we would call this the Prayer of Illumination) God’s Cloud fills the entire temple

And when the priests came out of the Holy Place,a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord. 1 Kings 8:10-11

God is all that is in the temple! The temple wasn’t big enough to hold God, yet God filled it! That’s why it wasn’t about limiting God, but noticing how infinite God is.

This is (one) story of how God came to dwell on Earth.

Another is Jesus

Another is Communion

Another is baptism

Another is us–the people, the body of Christ, Christ’s promise that whenever we gather in his name, he’ll be present.

With Christ, God was invited to be present in church, but not just in the building but in our very relationships.

Narnia Kings and Queens

Once you are baptized or ordained as elder, deacon or pastor, there are no takebacks: “Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.”

― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown”

Read more:http://www.gotquestions.org/heavenly-crowns.html#ixzz2d89N1oQs

Artist’s Website

Baptismal advice for parents

Baptismal advice for parents

Baptismal advice
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, read to your children and provide them with quality children’s literature.  There is no substitute for stories and the life of the imagination for a child’s developing mind.  Children need to be able to encounter on their own terms (not in a preprogrammed “entertainment” format) stories that are subtle and challenging enough to become part of their ongoing imaginative life. Start with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and anything by Tomie DePaola, and from age 4 or 5 onward, give them C. S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Winnie the Pooh, E. Nesbit, Lloyd Alexander, The Wind in the Willows, Brian Jacques, Madeleine L’Engle, Susan Cooper, Joan Aiken, Arthur Ransome, The Phantom Tollbooth, Watership Down, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, and whatever else seems good at the public library.  (Harry Potter and The Hunger Games won’t hurt them, but won’t do much all by themselves, either.)  The three Christian virtues are faith, hope and charity:  to believe in the invisible, to go forward when all seems lost, and to love the unlovable.  A child nurtured on good kids’ books will know these three virtues intuitively, in his or her bones.  Nothing on TV comes close.”

DISAGREE About Hunger Games and Harry Potter (hello Hallows not Horcruxes anyone?) but the reading advice is right on (note what percent is fantasy?)

Would add Andrew Lang and my Fairy Tale list https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/fairy-tale-addendum/

Batman and Baptism

Baptism Message: You are beautiful and loved and perfect as a newborn naked baby, the more “Naked” you can be with God, the more you can share in the glory of Christ’s love (both reviewed in Skinny Dipping and Embodied Spirituality and Nakedness)…
Reality…Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, then always be batman. This morning a batman costume helped to relieve any nerves during baptism….yep today I baptized batman..

Nakedness

A synopsis of Sunday’s Sermon

Naked Babies are beautiful–I’m pretty sure everyone can agree that naked babies are beautiful. Maybe this was why baptisms used to be done naked because (although a little dangerous) what is cuter than a naked baby?

God made us, as all good mothers, God made space for us and then formed us as a part of her lives…God made us naked babies, beautiful and perfect, and then Jesus offers us the spring of life.

God knows our own mother’s are not perfect, but there is great comfort in knowing that God fills in the gaps–God is the perfect parent, able to be both mother and father to us….

God thinks we’re beautiful…and invites us to baptism, to spirituality to swim fully in the glory of God.

And of course that means nakedness….

Removing all those loads and pieces of clothing that separate us from God. Fully claiming ourselves and our bodies in Christ (for more on this see my post on Skinny Dipping).

And when we get naked, we start to notice that our bodies are imperfect, there are scars, we have fat and wrinkles and everything doesn’t work right….so maybe we can only put our feet in, but whatever we can do to get some spirituality allows us to be loved. How can we participate in the River of Life.

I have a rule–every baby I see is the most beautiful baby in the world …And its true, every baby is a miracle, every baby is beautiful and so I know, for a fact that every baby is the most beautiful baby in the world.

We are God’s Babies. We are the most beautiful people in the universe, and that beauty comes from God! God’s glory and love is in us, and since Christ is in God we are in God’s glory (John 17). And God, as a good mother, doesn’t love us in spite of our faults, but including them. Seeing all our flaws, faults and cracks. God loves us, because we are the most beautiful children in the world–and we need to affirm that to one another. To look at one another and say–you are beautiful, just like naked babies are!

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

Lady Jabberwocky

Write with Heart

A Pastor's Heart

Thoughts on Life and Faith

10:00 am Worship @NCPC

Won't You Be Our Neighbor

Martha Spong

Clergy Coach

r e F o c u s

a ministry for transition

Church Set Free

Love is the answer - now what's your question?

Living Contemplatively

Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

PNEUMYTHOLOGY

ROBERT LAMBERT JONES III

A Spirit Filled Life

Seeing the Sacred in the Everyday

Improvisations

thinking outloud online

G-Free Rev

Knittin' and Preachin'

Infinite Windows

Meditations on faith and art

Mom Meets Blog

Managing motherhood, midlife and a blog