Washington District APRIL 2011 NewsletterApril_2011_M7E5IY5T.docx
Perceptions from a Pewboy
(offered by a superintendent to the people with whom he journeys)
Back in 1989, I attended an Easter vigil at Duke University Chapel on the Saturday night before Easter. The vigil began at 11:00 PM and didn’t end until about 1:30 in the morning. It was quite an experience.
One of the key components of the vigil was a time of baptismal reaffirmation. At the appropriate time, we were invited to come forward to receive the sign of the cross, placed upon our foreheads with the baptismal water.
The officiate that night was Dr. Carol Noren, who, at that time, was a professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School. In her words of introduction to the baptismal reaffirmation, Dr. Noren said that, for centuries, the church has looked upon the Saturday night before Easter as a time for paying attention to the baptismal water—a time to celebrate baptism and to reaffirm the baptismal covenant.
Why? Why has the church seen Holy Saturday as a day for baptismal emphasis?
“Because,” Dr. Noren said, “throughout the church’s history, the baptismal water has been an outward sign of our dying or drowning to sin and our resurrection to newness of life in Christ Jesus. What better time to reflect upon this pattern of death and resurrection than Easter weekend?”
Later on in her words of introduction, Dr. Noren shared with us a wonderful image that I will never forget. “The church has come to understand,” she said, “that it is better to swim into Easter through the water of baptism than to walk into Easter relying on our own merits.”
I love that image: Swimming our way into Easter through the water of baptism!
My prayer for each of you this year is that you will experience a meaningful and deeply spiritual Easter “swim.” In a spirit of repentance, swim away from those things that are preventing you from being who God created you to be. In a spirit of love, compassion, and forgiveness, swim alongside the other swimmers who are joining you in the perpetually-transformational outpouring of God’s grace. In a spirit of humble reliance, swim over to a more holistic understanding of how utterly dependent you are upon the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and saving grace of Jesus. In a spirit of prayer and worship, swim into a deeper intimacy with the presence of God. Most of all, in a spirit of joyful celebration, swim toward the resurrected Christ, who longs to walk with you upon the water and who will never allow the currents of sin and death to pull you away from his embrace.
Celebrate the Resurrection with authenticity and conviction, friends. And swim well.