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In the Way

22May2013

The Baptismal Font at St. John’s is in the way.  It stands right there in the middle of the aisle before the steps up into the chancel area.  Why do we put it right there—other places would work too.  In fact, several Sundays ago, as I was doing the children’s sermon, a little boy wasn’t paying attention.  He turned and ran his forehead right into the font almost knocking it and himself down.  Fortunately he wasn’t hurt (and neither was the font).

But it reminded me of two important facts.  First, having the font right there in the middle of the aisle is a nuisance.  It gets in the way.  Second, that is the point!  The baptismal font gets in our way because our Baptism is intended to get in the way of our life.  Bumping into the font every once in awhile helps to remind us to daily return to our baptism and walk wet.  In other words, every time we need to step around the font is a chance to remember that it helps us step around the dangers, temptations, and sinfulness that we encounter and commit each day.  The font in the middle reminds us that we are to live as people who have been washed, claimed, and named in its waters.  Our life in Christ is to be at the heart of our living.

When Deanna and I got married there was a similarly placed Baptismal font.  But, instead of being right in the front of the sanctuary, it was at the entrance; it was in the aisle between the back pews.  The reason for this is that Baptism is the entrance to the church.  In fact, many old European Cathedrals have a second building structure outside of the church proper where the baptismal font is—a Baptistery—for this same reason.  You couldn’t even enter the church unless you were baptized.  Anyway, back to our wedding day.  At the first note of the recessional anthem, Deanna and I—newly married and grinning from ear to ear—started walking back up that aisle arm in arm as husband and wife.  And it didn’t take us to long to be reminded that baptism still remains a crucial part of our identity.  We had to navigate around that font or risk the same error as that little boy several Sunday’s ago.  The font was ‘in the way’ just as it is always supposed to be.

Sometimes my faith gets in the way of the things I want to do and the things I don’t want to do.  As a follower of Jesus, I’m called to live my life in His shadow.  It means I can’t do whatever I want—I am in the constant process of discerning what He wants, trying to follow suit, and finding his grace and forgiveness when I continually fail.  But I keep trying.  This is why the font is in the middle.  That no matter how many times we fail, we return to this place to be reminded of His love and propelled forward in His love to do His will in obedience.

SMN@CCD

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