Monday, May 02, 2011

Seeing is believing...

Yesterday, we marked the second Sunday of Easter with a double Baptism. Little Reagan and Morgan we darling, and the liturgy was one that just seemed to bloom around them and their families as we embraced two new souls as fellow heirs of the kingdom of God. This pair entered the life of Christ just eight days after a baptism at the Great Vigil of Easter. This year's marking of Jesus' resurrection has become for St. Peter's a period of celebration, of birth and rebirth. We are blessed, and God bless the families who continue to bring children forward to join the fellowship of the Body of Christ.

This marks the tenth year that I have (or have supported my rector when I was an assistant) set aside this day as one available to families for the rite of Baptism. For many, the Easter Vigil is a tough sell. It is an evening service, right before a major sacred/secular holiday...and though it is considered efficacious, it is often hardly convenient. Still, we are blessed here.

What makes it both relevant to our current state as a Church and a challenge for me as a preacher is that on this Sunday, we mark the witness of Thomas (the Twin, often called the Doubter) as one late to the proverbial party centered around the Disciples' experience of the resurrected Christ in their midst in John's locked, upper room. He wasn't there that first morning, and missed the surprise. He also says, when the testimony is offered that Jesus is raised from the dead, that he won't believe it until he touches the mark of the nails and puts his hand in the wound in the side of our Lord.

What has built up in me over the years, seeking to bridge the grace of Baptism with this apparent marking of the doubt of one of Jesus' closest associates in the face of the greatest Good News of all time is a sense that when it comes to good news, acceptance takes more than hearing. Acceptance for us human beings requires a more profound and sense-based experience. We need more than just hearing the good news to have it matter, to have it transform our lives.

We need to see it; feel it; smell it; taste it; touch it. We need to bring it into the realm of our own senses for it to be real.

Thomas, at least in my imagination, wanted what they all wanted: for the word Jesus' resurrection to be true. Having those tidings related to him is welcome, of course. But the tale is something apart from the experience, and we all need that experience.

For the resurrection to be real to us, it needs to be a physical, sensible reality that we can reach out and embrace.

So, how appropriate that we use this occasion to mark the celebration of Baptisms in the name of our Lord Jesus! In the same way that our little one baptised the night of the Great Vigil was the first, tangible sign of the resurrected Christ in our midst; so also are these two little ones signs to all us Thomasine "need to see in order to believe" folk around the world. In them we witness the new life of Christ that is present, and ancient. In them, all the promises of our inheritance in the Kingdom of God are demonstrated as secure in the promises Jesus made to us and fulfilled in his resurrection.

In them, we see the life of the Church renewed, and the Paschal celebration of new life in the face of death reconfirmed.

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