July 13, 2006

Wading by the Water: Orderly Ardor Here is an idea to strengthen you experience of baptismal renewal. Take a walk! This may not sound very revolutionary, but any movement at all in my congregation carries the threat of something going awry. Our large mainline congregation typically restricts its movement to arriving, standing, sitting, and departing. Now we are about to take a walk together past the baptismal waters as a sign of remembrance and renewal. We are about to reflect together upon the story of Peter walking on water. His first steps brought the threat of sinking. Our steps bring the threat of tripping over someone’s walker or stepping on a neighbor’s foot. – As the pastor receiving Monday morning quarterbacking, I’m not sure which is scarier! Placed in the context of Peter’s walk, our congregational journey will be just a token of the faithful risk we are called to share. Members will bring their offerings forward as they physically move toward the front of the sanctuary. (I’m told there are some African communities where this act of offering is the most joyful and powerful part of the service!) Upon placing their offering (and their heart!) before the Lord, they will pass the baptismal waters and be given opportunity to touch the water and remember God’s claim on their lives. Children will be baptized at the start of our worship service. This exercise will be placed after the proclamation of the Word. It will be a remembrance of the baptismal act that further invites the congregation into the sacrament that was shared. Peter’s success came when his eyes were fixed on Christ. The challenge for us will be to lead with words of comfort and assurance that empower the congregation to take this minor risk of ardor. When we structure the event with order, it will become a moment of welcome and hospitality for the congregation to renew their spiritual life together. Our congregation may not be filled with folks courageous enough to wade “in” the water. However, this wading “by” the water should be invitation enough to remember who they are. The serigraph above is entitled "The River" by John August Swanson. View his work at www.johnaugustswanson.com.

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