This past Sunday, I was baptized at the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ. During the service, I shared a few words about claiming the Christian faith, portraying a broader array of Christian experiences, and what the baptism meant to me. I share them with you now:
I have had a close relationship with God since I was a child. And I have never been baptized. I sometimes tell people that I’m a Christian and yet sometimes I don’t because I don’t want to be lumped in with the “bad” Christians – the ones that see a small God, and fail to see the light in every person.
When I was a kid at summer camp, we sang a beautiful song saying “They will know we are Christians by our love.” And yet, since Christianity has been given a bad name within the liberal circles I grew up in, someone changed the song to, “They will know we are God’s children by our love.” I have no problem with that, I see myself as a child of God. Yet I want to reveal to people a broader example of Christianity, one that has at its core – loving God and loving my neighbor as myself. And this baptism is part of showing that Christians and love are in the same vein.
I asked Pastor Victoria to include “Be Thou My Vision” as one of the hymns today as a reminder that in my life I want to follow Jesus and live with him as my role model.
I want to see abundance. When I get one more request for help from Africa for work I don’t want to be like the disciples and send the crowds away. I want to welcome them, invite them to eat, and know that we all will be satisfied, with some left over.
I also want to stand for justice. Just as Jesus got angry enough to act by turning over the money-changers tables, when I am with people who are gossiping, I want to be strong enough to say – don’t say that, or that’s not the way I see it.
I want to show up at parties and turn water into wine…but never mind about that…
Finally, I take with me the knowledge that the Lord only requires three things of me as I enter into this sacrament. That is to seek justice (like my work with Spirit in Action in the world), love kindness (to be gentle to myself and always seek a solution that is best for many), and to walk humbly with my God (especially as I leave this wonderful community and begin a new life with Boyd in Toronto).
And I pray that as I am baptized, like with Jesus, God will also say, “this is my beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” So I thank you for being here today to witness this public act of faith, and for being a community that had prepared me to say that I am a child of God and I am also a Christian.
I love you and I will miss you when we leave, and yet finding this community, which is so safe and so strong, is like a promise that I will find another such place wherever I am.
P.S. Hope to see you on Saturday at our Sweet Sixteen Anniversary and Silent Auction in Alameda!