JANUARY 9, 2022
Christmas is over. Jesus has been born in Bethlehem.
Epiphany is over. The Magi found the child when he was almost two and gave him their precious gifts and went home by another way to avoid King Herod.
Jesus and his parents have gone to Egypt and returned only after Herod was dead.
Herold killed many male children under two in the slaughter of the Innocents.
All that is over and we return to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and his baptism by John in the Jordan.
Baptism is a strange ritual.
I was baptized at 12 in a church with a pool by a Methodist minister after I was “saved” at a Methodist revival meeting. Mountain Methodists aren’t like New England Methodists!
A few days after my baptism, I was in Math class, taught by my aunt, and she told the class what had happened. I was terribly embarrassed and dropped my pencil.
When I bent over to pick it up I looked up Donna Grubbs skirt and thought---“Oh God, it didn’t ‘take’!!!”
As a priest, I haven’t observed the ‘no communion without baptism’ rule.
At St. John’s in Waterbury, where I was Rector for 21 years, I put in the bulletin each week, “All people are invited to receive communion.”
A parishioner, who loved the rules, called the bishop and the bishop told me to take that out of the bulletin.
I did take it out, but I always said, “all people are invited to receive communion” right before the communion itself.
I’ve always believed that if the baptismal font can lead to the altar, then the altar can lead to the font.
Over my career as a priest, I must have baptized two dozen people who received communion before they were baptized.
So, my theory is right!
Two people in particular stick in my mind. A 78 year old mother and her 50 year old daughter at St. John’s, they came to communion regularly and then realized the rule was ‘baptism before communion’.
So they came and asked to be baptized. I put them with several others through a class or two and asked if they wanted to stop receiving communion before their baptism.
The daughter said ‘yes’ but her mother said, “I’m too old, I need all the Body and Blood I can get.” So she kept coming to communion until, a month or two later, in a glorious service, I baptized them and several others.
In my mind and heart, I believe God works in mysterious ways.
John baptized Jesus and the Spirit came to him like a dove and spoke, “you are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus took Bread and Wine and shared it with his disciples (and we don’t know how may of them had been baptized) and told them it was his Body and Blood and to always remember him when they shared it.
And we do that today—take Bread and Wine and share his Body and Blood.
I don’t understand it at all, but I do it.
God works in mysterious ways.
Be well and stay well and Amen.