My Methodist grandmother, a very energetic person who was always (as she said) “up and doing things” had a Baptist’s heart. She believed in adult baptism and total immersion in the waters of baptism. She insisted — at least this is how the story goes — that my twin brother and I should not be baptized until we could remember it. My Episcopal parents were good at Anglican compromise. They waited until we were eight-years-old so we could “remember it.” As a result, I do, literally, remember my baptism! I also remember receiving a Prayer Book and a Kodak Brownie camera, both of which I immediately put to use. By the way, my brother and I were (thankfully) far too big to be totally immersed in the tastefully small Gothic baptismal font that stood at the back of our parish church. Instead we were liberally splashed with the rippling waters of Holy Baptism. Wading more deeply into the waters of baptism would have to wait, yet not for too long.
I find myself increasingly drawn to understanding more about what it means to be a baptized Christian day by day. Most of us can and do figure out what baptism has to do with Sunday worship. Through baptism, we are greeted as children of God, admitted to the Church’s membership, educated in the apostles’ teaching, welcomed to the Eucharistic table, and joined in common prayer with other worshipers in our parish churches, week by week. What we are to do “up and doing” the other six days of the week remains a bit more of a challenge. I recently saw a bumper sticker which said: “Jesus is coming. Look busy!” My Grandmother would have liked this. Still, and I don’t know about you, the last thing I need is another boring list of things “to do.” Just what are next steps for those of us striving to live faithful, progressive Christian lives?
Fortunately within Christian tradition there are provocative biblical, theological, ethical and other resources — as well as our own experience and common sense — to guide us. Everyday living reflects who God is in our lives, who we are called to be as singularly well-beloved children of God, and what our identity is as a collective body of Christians at work in the world.
I have a friend from the Granite State, rural New Hampshire, who invented her own baptismal bumper sticker. “Thank God It’s Monday!” expresses her daily sense of adventure and perseverance. Like my energetic grandmother, she is fond of noting that God came to save the world, and not the church. In addition to competently performing (what she describes as) her “mundane” job entering medical data, this doughty New Englander prays and labors daily for peace and justice.
Most of us have stories to tell about our everyday ministries as they are played out beyond the walls of church buildings. Ask your friends and family members what stories they have to share. Remembering our baptism is an ongoing adventure that involves wading in the waters of Christian living, day by day. Thanks, Grandmother.