Walking Together into a Mostly Benevolent Mystery: Old First E-pistle 05.31.12.

Walking Together into a Mostly Benevolent Mystery: Old First E-pistle 05.31.12.

I was there to hear your borning cry
I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold…

Worship on Sunday will include this hymn as we witness Anna, Madelyn and Warren confirming their baptisms… making good on — in their words and own names — the promises their parents first made for them as babies.

These sorts of “life – events” make me philosophical. We wish only the best for these young people, as, in church, they begin long pilgrimages to healthy adult lives. But who can foretell or foresee where life will lead? Indubitably, their paths will also include some challenges, and so, it makes me happy that they are inviting the church to stay with them and support them on their journey…

Perhaps, the promise of the church’s abiding presence in the face of life’s changes stays with me because my life has taken me so many places I never expected. Thankfully, most of the surprises have been good. And the church has been a great help. Still life itself, the whole thing, is a mystery. And, finally, most of it is beyond our control.

Understandably, humans are, therefore, forever coming up with systems we hope steer what happens to us, provide us an upper hand, influence or protect us to from what otherwise often feels like vagaries that befall us.

Creating a mechanism for being in charge isn’t what Jesus was up to. I don’t think it’s really what church offers either. In the face of all of life — the good and the bad — Jesus teaches that we have only one consistent choice. We can keep choosing to remain loving, trusting and serving, despite life’s difficult dips and setbacks. That’s what we can do best for ourselves and others.

Admittedly, some of our scheming — “reward thinking,” I sometimes call it (doing what’s right and righteous in hope it is self-fulfilling and I will gain) — has snuck into our tradition and our faith. But faith provides something deeper, I believe.

Not really a predestinarian, I still like the idea that God has some plan for my life. It leaves me feeling less a victim of Fate. It can creates an openness within me. Entrusting myself to a benevolence at large in the universe, alongside acknowledging the tough times that will come too, I begin to see our lives unfolding as a surprise. I’m almost impatient to see how life turns out.

I am heartened then — glad really — that at this stage, Anna, Madelyn and Warren are making a choice. That they do not need to go these next steps alone. Maybe, most basically, that’s what faith is. Recognizing that you need help and being humble enough to ask for it in advance.

What will that their faith mean for them? How it will all work out? Of course, that remains to be seen. But I feel we are doing our little part well by them, suggesting, offering, being some of those who have covenanted to walk with them on their journeys.

See you in church,

Michael

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