This past Sunday, March 3rd, we celebrated–and I mean celebrated–the baptism of Drake Dennison. Drake and his mom and dad have been with us for some months now so it was with great joy that they asked to have him baptized at Christ Church. It was our first baptism in many years and will be complimented by the confirmation of three of our teenagers in May, something that also hasn’t happened in many years.
In my message I reflected on not only Drake’s baptism but mine as well. I talked about how when I was baptized at the age of 28, the priest, someone who became like a second father to me, William D. Eddy ,made me earn it. He made sure I realized that baptism wasn’t just a simple exercise of pouring water over my head. He said, ‘this is serious business; are you sure you want to do this?’
The question shocked me somewhat. He had been teaching me about the faith for almost a year when I informed him I wanted to be baptized. I thought he would be ecstatic when I told him I was ready. Instead he faced me with the question above as a challenge. He wanted me to know that being a Christian was hard work, it required diligence and discipline. Being a Christian, Bill Eddy, said meant I was going to live differently than the rest of the world. Now, once I did have that water poured over my head, I was agreeing to love more, serve more, pray more, seek justice more, forgive more…all those ‘mores’ was indeed going to be hard work.
The parish may not be aware of this, I also said, but the last six weeks have all been about the same thing at Christ Church: the importance of making our faith our lifestyle, of being willing to do all those ‘mores’ I wrote above. The last six weeks we have talked about the fact that Christ Church spends little time on deep theological issues and lots of time serving more, praying more, loving more, seeking justice more, forgiving more. We, I said, were ‘experiential Christians.’ We, at Christ Church experience Jesus in the face of everyone we meet. We serve Jesus in everything we do. The presence of God in our lives is not something we have to go looking for; it’s always with us if we are intentional about seeing him and identifying his love in all that we do.
Drake, I said, shows this better than all the great theologians in the world because Drake is just Drake. He doesn’t try to be anything other than what he is. Drake doesn’t worry about what anyone thinks about him he just lives. And that is what Drake teaches us all: just live in this moment, at this time. We can’t do anything about the past, don’t know the future we can only live here, now, where we are. Where Jesus is. With us. Always and in everything.
Baptism is radical business. Bill Eddy was right. And when we live out our baptismal promises–promises we all reaffirmed on Sunday–we agree to take on that business in a new way, the experiential way, the way of Jesus in all things at all time.
I think Bill Eddy and Drake Dennison would have enjoyed each other’s company. They both live their lives as fully as they can and do it without any care for what the world asks and total dedication to what Jesus asks. Drake may not know it yet. But he does.