Five years ago, my first year at Southminster, we celebrated Baptism of Our Lord in worship. In the sermon, I mentioned that by being baptized, we join with Christ in his baptism. And God is, therefore, also speaking to us when God’s voice shreds the heavens apart to yell “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased!”
After worship, an 18 year old young man came in to my office, closed the door, and said, with all seriousness, “Is it true?”
“Is what true?”, I asked.
“When God is saying ‘you are my beloved child’, is God talking about me?”
“Yes”, i replied emphatically and without a moment’s hesitation.
“Are you sure? Even for the gays?”
“Yes. There are plenty of things I’m unsure of, but in this, I am positive. You are God’s beloved child. In you, Christopher, God is well pleased.”
“How can that be? I’m a mess.”
“Yes. Well, that may be. We are all a mess at one time or another. Doesn’t change the game at all. You, Christopher, are God’s beloved child.”
“How could God be pleased with me? I’m a disaster.”
Chris, I’ve since learned, is prone to head to the worst possible conclusion. But at that moment, I recognized his concern. He had family trouble. He had school trouble. He was trying to come to terms with his sexuality in a very conservative place. Disaster? No. Struggling? Yes.
So I asked him, “have you ever made anything before–a painting, a piece of pottery, whatever?”
“How do you feel about those things you’ve made?”
“Well, they aren’t perfect, but they are mine and I’m proud of them.”
“There you go. That’s how God feels about you. You are God’s creation. You aren’t perfect, but you’re God’s. God made you and loves you. God is well pleased.”
Chris said, “I want to be baptized then. I want to join in to that.”
Five years down the road, Christopher and his husband Andy are both important leaders in our congregation. Just last week, they both testified, from the pulpit, about how important the church is to them and why people might want to join them as they called a House Church to work on human rights.When they were married in New York, because neither the State of Idaho nor the PCUSA currently recognize same gender marriage, it was important to them to have a blessing of their marriage in our church. You can read about that day here.
And here is a video with their reflections about why marriage matters that was shared at the Covenant Network Conference in Chicago in October. Andy is on the left. Chris is on the right.
Every year, as the church celebrates Baptism of our Lord Sunday, I give thanks for Christopher. I am thankful for a young man who was willing to ask a tough question, even as he feared the answer. I am thankful for his faith, for the eagerness with which he has journeyed down the path of discipleship. I am thankful he recognized the unfathomable gift of grace that is present in baptism.
And what good things God has done through him in our midst.