Baptized to Ask Questions

19th Century Baptism. Willisville, Illinois

Raised in the American Baptist denomination, it was up to me to declare that I felt led by God’s spirit to be ready for baptism.

“Who wants to give their life over to Christ?” The pastor asked at the end of worship. He seemed to study each member of the congregation.


I do!

Actually, it was a version of, “We do!” My older sister and I, probably after a few minutes of intense discussion (before scurrying outside to play) had decided to get holy and wet.

Which meant standing up in church when the pastor asked who would follow Jesus.

Which meant taking a class to prepare for the big day.

Which meant we’d eventually find ourselves on the other side of the expansive red velvet curtain hiding the baptismal pool from the pew view. Full immersion, baby! Continue reading →

The Woman in Purple (or Acts as a Movie)

Acts 16:9-15 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for May 1, 2016

“One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth.” (Acts 9:14)

A dealer in purple cloth . . .

They met down by the river, some Jews, a handful of Gentiles, and the usual suspects from other places beyond the city of Philippi.

Paul, with Timothy and Silas, ventured to the riverbank. It was Friday, the Sabbath. According to the 16th chapter in Acts, they’d been in Philippi only a few days. Their visit to this strange-to-them speck on the map of Rome’s empire was inspired by a vision Paul had one night.

In the vision a man of Macedonia urged Paul to come and help.

To bring the good news of Jesus?

To bring the good news of Jesus!

And so a dream with a mysterious man from a faraway locale compelled these spirit-fed, God-led disciples of Jesus to venture into the unfamiliar. They chose to trust a midnight hint, a divine nudge, a vision that lingered after waking.

Sometimes that’s enough. Continue reading →

Baptize Me Every Day

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 – The Baptism of the Lord – for Sunday, January 10, 2016

“. . . and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.’” (Luke 3:22)

bapt1I want to convince or coerce all Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shintoist, Sikh, Taoist, and Zoroastrian followers to “come to the Jordan.” I scheme to get those in the tiniest of faith traditions (which don’t qualify for Wikipedia articles on the world’s major religions) to join at the symbolic shore of the river of life. And, I pray, please God show me to how to coddle or throttle the non-believers—those latter day Nones and Naysayers professing no belief—to also be present for some wet and wild dunking.

Make them all come to the river, to come to Jesus, to come to their senses about the one who was and is the beloved of God.

Have I lost my mind?

Lost my way? Continue reading →