Pastor’s Corner (1/6/2022)
“Baptism consists of getting dunked or sprinkled. Which technique is used matters about as much as whether you pray kneeling or standing on your head. Dunking is a better symbol, however. Going under symbolizes the end of everything about your life that is less than human. Coming up again symbolizes the beginning in you of something strange and new and hopeful. You can breathe again.”
—–Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner
Last autumn when we resumed our conversation about baptism with the young men in our youth group, we pondered what day to choose. While the ancient church usually conducted them on Easter as new members became part of the church, today baptisms can be done any time of the year. Due to the onset of COVID-19, plans for baptism were put on hold. I had the impression that our youth were eager to be baptized and did not wait any longer, so I suggested Baptism of the Lord Sunday, January 9th of this year. The symbolism seemed powerful and everyone was in agreement. As preparations moved forward it also struck me how appropriate this was as we begin a new year. As these young men prepare for their baptisms and re-affirmation of earlier baptismal vows, they mark a new beginning in their life and faith. On that same Sunday, the rest of the congregation will be invited to remember our baptisms and rejoice.
As we begin a new year, what would each of us like to wash away in our lives that makes us “less than human?” As we symbolically arise from the water, what would we like to see begin anew that is “strange and new and hopeful?” As we begin a new year we may make resolutions or simply plan to make some desired changes. For many of us, we hope to embrace more healthy habits like regular exercise or more nutritious eating. While I hope to do both those things, I was also inspired by the book Make Today Count by John C. Maxwell. He suggests that there are 12 daily habits that enable us to make each day count. I like the symmetry of 12 and hope to add on a new element each month throughout the coming year.
Perhaps you would like to join me. The first topic he addresses is “attitude.” I know I have struggled with my attitude over the past few months, particularly during this time of dealing with COVID. I suspect I am not the only one who has struggled with the negativity that seems to be all around us. Maxwell encourages the reader to begin by making a decision to nurture a positive attitude. He says “I am going to keep a positive attitude and use it to influence others.” He goes on to remind us that this is a daily discipline and requires that we “think, act, talk, and conduct yourself like the person you want to become.”
I know this is an ongoing challenge for me and I wonder what our life here at FCC would be like if we embraced this challenge as a congregation. What if we think, act, talk, and conduct ourselves as the church we want to become? We can do this by “placing a high value on people” and by cultivating an appreciation for life and a sense of gratitude.
So, how can we work on our attitude? We can start by finding something positive in everything and by finding someone positive in every situation. For me, one of the greatest challenges is to “say something positive in every conversation.” This does not mean denying the challenging realities of life, but it does require also finding and acknowledging the positive. This requires eliminating negative words and phrases and replacing them with positive ones.
As we begin a new year may we embrace the new, the strange, and the hopeful elements in our individual lives and in our life as a congregation. Hopefully our efforts to nurture a positive attitude will enrich our own lives and our life together.
In a spirit of hope and joy,