Friday, January 7, 2011

Don't Hate Me Because I Spent a Few Days in the Only Warm Place in the U.S.

....I'm back now.  And there are still about 17-odd inches of snow on the ground, where I am.  It will reportedly get very cold this weekend.


The last day of our vacation, we got out of town and drove to the Kennedy Space Center.   They put us on a bus where we toured the facilities where the Gemini, Apollo, Saturn and many other space shuttles took off.  We got to ride a simulated take-off, feel what it might be like for an astronaut lifting off from the earth.  We looked at rocket launches and learned about some of the astronauts.  At one point, we found ourselves standing in front of a small black and white television at the door of a theatre.  There we were transported back in time to 1969, and we were hearing the reports of the Apollo 11 flight as they attempted the first landing on the moon.  As we walked into the theatre, we continued to hear about the moon landing, including some details that I don't think I knew about at the time.  It turns out that the time right before the moon landing was more harrowing than I thought.  They were in and out of communication, and ended up doing a manual landing.  No one knew what would happen.  I remember turning to my husband in the theatre and whispering, "I know how this turns out, and I'm nervous!"

Then Neil Armstrong got out of the shuttle, and said the famous words, "One small step for a man.  One giant leap for mankind."

It got me thinking.  Neil Armstrong didn't say, "I'm king of the world!"   He didn't say, "Look at me!"  He placed himself in the middle of something much larger than himself.  This moon-walk, he knew, was not just about him.  It was "one small step for a man."  But that small step was a part of a great mission.

This weekend is the one we call "Baptism of Our Lord."  This weekend we hear the story of how Jesus walked into the river Jordan "to fulfill all righteousness", whatever that means.  This weekend we hear the story of how Jesus walked into the river Jordan in solidarity with all of sinful humanity, becoming fully and completely one of us. 

And yet, what a simple act:  to be baptized.   "One small step for a man."

Jesus' baptism (thankfully for us) was not just about him.  Jesus' baptism was about the mission of God, God's mission to save and redeem all of wayward humanity.   Jesus got down in the water with all of the sinners and prostitutes, with all of the tax collectors and ne-er-do-wells, with all of the proud and the foolish, with all of the self-righteous and the unrighteous.   And God called him "Beloved."

It's the same with our baptisms, I think.  Our baptisms are not just about us.  When we are baptized, we are joined to Christ, and, like it or not, we are joined to something much larger than ourselves.  It might give some of you pause, if you are thinking about your own child's baptism, coming up soon.  Do you know what you are getting them into?  Yes, yes, you are getting them into forgiveness of sins, life and salvation, but this is not just about them as individual people.  You are getting them into the body of Christ and the mission of God -- without even asking them, you are saying that you want them to be a part of something much greater than themselves, to be joined together with Christ, and with all of the proud and the foolish, the self-righteous and unrighteous people that he associates with, that he came to save.

So what do you think?

It's one small step for a child...


Rev SS said...

I think this is another excellent theological reflection .. thanks for sharring!

Elaine Dent said...

Great way of teaching baptism!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Yes, and if we thought of being joined to something much larger than ourselves, then maybe, just maybe, we would be less likely to demonize people who don't think like we do. I'm thinking here of the political discourse that has taken place since the tragic events of the weekend, and how people are blaming others for what has been said in the past.