Back in the Saddle
They say that when you fall off a horse, the first thing you should do is get back up on it. I actually fell off a horse in my younger days, and I found that to be good advice. Get back on and don't let fear and dread get the best of you.
I've also taken a fall metaphorically in the last few weeks. Two weeks ago today my mother began to die, which was a shock even though we knew she couldn't live for ever. We buried her ten days ago. I came back to the office last Monday but today was my first day in church since Christmas Eve.
It was a beautiful day, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. I was honored to baptize two baby girls, both of whom were not only beautiful but thoroughly engaged in the process of the baptism. One of them looked at me a lot with a look that seemed a combination of curiosity (what, exactly, are we doing here and why is water dripping off my nose?) and knowingness (this is a holy moment, isn't it?). The other was caught by the shiny silver bowl in which I had poured the water. She leaned over toward it to get a better look. (I have had this experience before with an adorable little girl who wanted to reach into the font herself, which I was happy to help her do!)
It is always a privilege to welcome a child into the household of God but it was especially wonderful today on my first day back in church. It felt like home, the kind of home that is different from my childhood home, a home that bursts through the boundaries we often put up in and around our own homes and says, "Hey, everybody, come in! There is a place for you here! You are loved here! Come here and be fed. Come here and rejoice. Come here and cry. Come here and heal. You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ's own, forever. In this home you will find comfort and also you will find that you are going to be changed through being part of this community. But do not fear that transformation. It is meant to help you become who you were made to be."
This is what baptism is about. It undergirds my life and my ministry. Thanks be to God.