The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Epiphany 2 :: The Call

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The opening scene of the film Godspell is a modern-day take on God’s call to each of us in the midst of our daily lives. A hippie John the Baptist blows an ancient shofar—ram’s horn—on the streets of a big modern city [New York, actually]. In the hubbub and din of the streets, people are awaken from the day-to-day dreariness of life by the piercing tones of the horn: street vendor, office clerk, sales rep, student, etc. Following the sound of the ram’s horn, each makes her or his way to a park where others are dancing and singing. The ordinariness of life has been shed. Behold, a new life is begun!

John the Evangelist paints a similar calling—one which Jesus initiates and which is shared by others. First come Peter, Andrew, and Philip, and then the call is extended, friend to friend, to Nathanael and all the others. Each person is called individually out of his or her own daily life to share in something new and different, creating an entirely new community in the process. 

Epiphany 1 :: Just a little bit of water...

2011 Scotland Trip 224

For as long as the church has been around there’s been an ongoing discussion [argument, some would say] around the sacrament of Holy Baptism. Theologians, ecclesiastics, liturgists, catechists, and ordinary pew-sitting Christians have pondered such questions as:

  • Why did Jesus get baptized?
  • Why do we baptize infants? [Meaning: Shouldn’t we only baptize adults?]
  • Is sprinkling better than full immersion? [For us proper Anglicans, sprinkling is much less messy!]
  • How much water is sufficient? One drop? Two? A bucketful?
  • Why do we even need baptism?
  • Will the unbaptized not get to Heaven?

Such questions can really make one’s head spin! It’s almost easier to debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin…

I’ll never forget the family who wanted their newborn infant [number five] baptized. Their four older children had been baptized by my predecessor as infants in the little Episcopal Church I served and so they, being pros at this sort of thing, naturally wanted their newborn to also be baptized. [This was to be my first baptism.] Unfortunately, the only time they ever came to church was to have one of their little ones sprinkled. They were more than a bit indignant when I mentioned that I would like to visit with them prior to administering this primordial sacrament of the church, but visit them I did. My first question to them was: Why do you want little [let’s call him “Johnny”] baptized? After a few awkward moments they replied something to the effect that they saw baptism as a way to let the congregation know they had a new baby. Seriously. Baptism for them was little more than a baby shower [pun intended!].

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