This Sunday I heard a great sermon about the posture that we should be in at the start of the coming year. Right on the heels of my forward-thinking, intention-laiden ambitious goal setting for 2010, I was reminded of the important spiritual posture that we are to live out of if we want to ‘get anything done’ of importance.
As part of celebrating the baptism of Jesus this week, Pastor Phil reminded us that we are all living out of our baptism every day. Just as Jesus himself was baptized, as baptized Christians we each are living out of who God is, out of the gift of being baptized and receiving God’s grace and wisdom – not out of our good works, our hard focus, or our own energy (these are my words not his, but his message was along these lines.) Instead of tilting ouselves forward, in a position of being ready to run or to force ourselves into movement (a position that I am familiar with), Phil reminded us to tilt ourselves back, as at our baptism – a position that is more humble, receptive, and focused on the work of God instead of our own works. We are to tilt back, assuming the posture of a servant and a child of God – even at the start of a new year when the possibility of the future looms large and all that we long to become seems obvious.
This is a life lesson for me to be sure – ultimately to do more, to become more, to be who I really want to be, I need to rely more on God, tilt back and listen, receive, and put myself in a posture that God can work with; not run forward and push myself to change the world/myself. At the end of the sermon Sunday, the congregation was invited to come forward and look again/touch at the waters of baptism at the open baptismal font of the front of the church. A long line of us made our way to the small recepticle of water in the front, to touch a liquid that is everyday and ordinary – except for its purpose in our walk of discipleship. As I walked forward, I thought about Eva’s baptism not quite a year ago when we had a very meaningful service around this very same font of water. Our little baby, not yet able to do much on her own or rationalize her own precepts of faith, received her baptism from Pastor Phil. She looked up at his face as he talked about faith and community, and water was poured over her head as she was being held and enveloped in God’s grace. Infant baptism makes this dependence more obvious, but whether it is infant or adult baptism, this practice requires that we submit, lean back, receive, and depend on the church community and on God. It means we believe that something bigger than ourselves is at work in the water and in our prayers, that we are not in control but we are taken care of, that we do not know everything but will receive wisdom and support as needed. This is a hard posture for me to live in (to stay in and not just visit) – this tilting back – but it’s also such a welcome, important place for me to be reminded of… tilting back into God’s arms and grace. That is a really good goal for 2010.