The celebration of baptism

I had promised that I would get baptized when my Dad would come to Canada. It has been nearly a year, and I am still not baptized. I have not even talked to our Pastor about it.

I really want to get baptized. My belief in God is undeniable. I believe in the way the Christ has shown us. I believe that God gave his only son to save us. There are a couple of theories that I disagree with, but for the most part, I am good.

What I now struggle with is baptism. The whole process of it is too beureaucratic. You got to meet the Pastor. A committee decides if you are fit to be baptized. You need to then announce/pick a date, and presumably invite people to it. You have to write some kind of testimony showing your conviction.

Can you imagine doing all of that in time of Christ? That you have to book a date and time to get baptized?

It would be neat if baptism was something you did unannounced. Where the pastor just went up, “Does anyone want to get baptized today?” or “We are going to be baptizing now. Please come up if you would like to get baptized.” Why does it have to be scheduled? Why do people have to approve? Why ask questions? It’s one thing to inform people on what baptism is, and entirely something else to confirm their understanding of what baptism. Why is there a need for a testimony? Why do I have to offer testimony to people, when baptism is something so personal…something between me and God. I suppose I don’t like the community affair it has become.

Let me be clear, I am not opposed to anyone witnessing my baptism. I just don’t want the ceremonial or celebratory parts of it. (This despite the fact that I like to plan things.) It feels unnatural. I don’t understand why baptisms are not offered openly. We are asked to walk with Christ openly, but when it comes to baptism…it’s turned into process where people have to “make sure”…ugh.

Are you grateful for Judas Iscariot?

Ah. I love my bible study group. I love meeting with them. They are such great people who are always ready to hear me out, to listen to my doubts, and share that they too, sometimes wonder. It’s good to know that we are all in this search together.

We are studying gratitude in our Bible study group, and this week the focus was on Jonah 3-4. I didn’t really know much of the story around Jonah; I had heard something about a whale. Jonah 3-4 shows, among other things, Jonah’s discontent at being God’s prophet, his lack of appreciation of life, and his anger at God for forgiving others.

Jonah is angry with God for being merciful and forgiving; he doesn’t want God to forgive others. He wants God to be fair.

I think the book of Jonah carries some undertones about judgement. Who is Jonah to pass judgement unto others and seek revenge? When someone hurts you, is it really you’ve they hurt or is it God, whose work you are, that they’ve hurt?

It reminded me of Judas Iscariot. As my Pastor put it, Judas is the punching bag of Christianity. It is so easy to dislike him; but it is so important to feel compassion for him. To pray for him. What a terrible burden it is to carry that your folly cost the life of the saviour! It’s saddening that we can forgive someone who denied Jesus not once, but three times; but not one who revealed his location…! It is saddening that he is forgotten as a disciple and remembered only as a betrayer.

Judas was hand-picked by Jesus himself, just as the other disciples. He was part of God’s plan. Jesus never showed him disdain, so why should we? If the death of Jesus is so important to our salvation, so is Judas’ betrayal. So the question begs, are you grateful for him? Are you grateful for his betrayal? Are you grateful that someone did the dirty work for you?

 

When she doesn’t want to be healed

Long before I had my biological children, I had another child to take care of. Her and I were acquainted when I got to University. She had been abused in every way; she had been abandoned; she had been neglected; she had been told that no one loved her; she had been betrayed, her innocense stolen early in life. Her big, bright eyes sparkled with tears that she couldn’t shed anymore. Her body was charred with all that the world had given her, and she just wanted a place to hide, to be kept safe.

So I took her in. I told her that I loved her. I told her that I would keep her safe, no matter what. I told her that I wouldn’t abandon her. And most of all, I promised her, that I would never let those who hurt her, come to even know of her.

I visited her not too long ago, to ask her about how she feels about joining me in this journey. Where before she played with her toys in a scantily lit room (she doesn’t want to see her scars), she has now turned all the lights off. She lays in the corner, in a fetal position with all the lights off. She is terrified.

Where I want to show her the love of God to heal her, she is terrified of God. She doesn’t trust God the way I do. Where I believe that God has a plan for everything he does, a plan beyond my understanding, she doesn’t believe in any such plan. We all have her trials, all have our cross to bear; but her shoulders haven’t grown yet to carry hers.

And I don’t know what to do anymore. Do I drag her to God? Do I give her time and space? How long do I keep her enclosed, sheltered, away from God’s love and mercy that can heal her? How do I tell the little girl, with everything that she has been through, “to have courage?” I cannot lose her trust, I am all she has. I cannot abandon her. I cannot force this fragile soul. So I await, patiently, for her to be ready.

On why I need God

What is God?
A force, a healer. God is not my friend (just like gravity is not), but he is just there. God doesn’t need me, but I do need God.

Why do you believe in God?
Because I need to. I would be really screwed up without him. No really, I would.

What about heaven/hell?
Don’t care. Will worry about it when it’s a problem. For now, I am here, and I got to get by. Even if it’s something I must think about “now”, I just don’t have the mental capacity to do so. Moot point. Fear of hell is not something I entertain.

What about this devil stuff?
What about it? I believe in a negative force (“the devil”). We are saved (and I don’t mean salvation) by believing in God.

What about Jesus?
Maybe God sends messengers to share some light with us? Maybe he has sent many messengers. Maybe he still is sending these messengers. Jesus is one of these messengers. I don’t particularly care for his “Son of God” thing. It as irrelevant to me as the virgin birth.

Why, why do you need God? There are happy, content atheists/agnostics/{put word here} all over the world?
Because I am different then them. I tried this atheist thing, but not out of lack of belief, because I was angry with God. I had been betrayed so inexcusably, and this ‘God’ hadn’t taken care of me. I was angry. It’s been shoved down your throat that bad things happen to those God doesn’t love; so if something bad happened to you, it’s your fault. Wow. Way to make sure that an 8 year old victim of child abuse is completely screwed up.

I tried going back to religion, but left it each time because religions tend to indicate that God loves us, takes care of us, yada yada. Well, ya know what, there are hundreds of young folks being sold into sexual slavery RIGHT NOW, and God sure as heck isn’t doing anything about them. If he can write the Universe to indicate that two people make a human being, he couldn’t write the universe to indicate that people can’t be sold into slavery? Don’t tell me about this omnipresent, omnipotent, God when there is clear proof, for me, that there is NO SUCH THING.

But what is there is a very beautiful force, a force to give you strength when you need it. A force to help you rise. A force to help you find the battle against cruel realities in this world. And that’s God. God gives us the strength to make the improbable happen.

And THAT, THAT I absolutely need. I go to Church not to hear sermons on how Jesus died for my sins and I am saved, etc…but, instead, to reinforce that strength. There is beauty in every religion (and in my opinion, the devil has managed to slip in every religion too), and I seek that beauty. Is that the right thing to do? Probably not. But I don’t care.

The Anticipation of Adoption

PregnantI dislike being pregnant. A lot. After two natural-born kids, pregnancy is a period of my life marred with severe depression and a turbulent marriage. Never in my time do I feel more alone than when there is a thriving human being inside my uterus.

However, we love kids. Our kids bring us a great deal of joy and raising them has to be one of life’s greatest experiences. Sure, it’s full of sleepless nights and an incredible amount of stress, but it’s all worth it. Coming from a relatively small family of four (parents, sister), I have always wanted a large family. I’ve always also wanted to adopt. Jon wants more kids too, and recognizes how pregnancy affects me, so slowly but surely, the idea of adoption has won him over.

We recently finished the PRIDE training offered by Ontario. I didn’t even know there were kids to adopt locally, but there are! So why not? I don’t care where the kid comes from or who the kid is, we just want a kid. I find it odd that I have to specify whether we would be open to kids with disabilities (not something you choose when you are pregnant), but it makes sense: those kids may need resources and time that you may not have. For now, Jon and I have ruled out severe disabilities as we both recognize that we don’t have the training, capacity, or even the maturity to handle that. Some people do because they have to, but if the option to not to, we would rather not.

We are almost wrapped up our homestudy…so now comes some serious anticipation. The birth mother will look through our adoption profile book and make a life-changing decision. We are so excited and nervous at the same time. Will she like our family? Will she believe that we will raise her kid as our own? How long will it take our child to adjust? How long will it take us? What kind of battles await us?

I am apprehensive about what will happen with the extended family. Some of the reactions genuinely surprised me. Comments such as “it’s never the same as your own” or “you won’t know what’ll be wrong with it” or “it’ll have serious issues.”

I didn’t expect that of a Christian. I don’t understand what they expect to happen? First, theyare vehemently against abortion. Then against social assistance. And then while they like the idea of adoption…anyone but them should do it. What? Who is going to do it if not you? *We* are the body of Christ. *We* should be extending our arms. *We* should be showing love. Not our next door neighbor. That’s not how it works.

 

The Question of Baptism

My pastor at church that I’ve been attending regularly for the past 6 years asked if I would be interested in attending the baptism session early fall. If at the end I decide that I want to be baptized, it would be done this year.

Little does anyone know, this has thrown me in for a loop.

I very much like Christianity as Tolstoy presented it or something like Jesuism. I don’t understand why people are so tied to the Bible when it’s canonization isn’t even close to divine and made by a body of church that seems entirely about power! (Might I mention no women were involved in it’s canonization?!) I even toy with Gnosticism, because frankly, if reading through the Old Testament doesn’t evoke anger for the guy called “God”, then I don’t know what you’ve been smoking. There is a massive difference between the God as described in Old Testament and teachings of Jesus Christ. And then there is a difference again when you compare the synoptic Gospels and “Apostle” Paul. One teaches love and inclusion, and the other seems to teach hate and exclusion.

Yeah, there are people who defend it and say that it’s “out of context” and yada yada. I am just not sold on it. I feel that Christianity took a bitter turn with Apostle Paul. Maybe he wasn’t a bad guy, maybe it wasn’t intentional; I don’t know. I just don’t feel comfortable with it.

So, here comes the question of Baptism. The church in question is a Baptist church; heavily biblical. My pastor is a fairly liberal pastor, who is very welcoming. He can maintain genuine friendships with atheists and Muslims, which counts for something. But that’s the issue….I think I am in love with the idea of Christianity as my pastor presents it, not as the baptist community necessarily does. And that scares me. I feel like I’ve tied my religion somehow to my pastor; whereas it should be something way stronger…like God.

Not having God as the cornerstone of my faith surprised me. I realize that I still don’t trust that God is there for me. I realize that I still don’t believe that he won’t abandon me. I realized how far away I am from God’s love than I had expected. And while I may have been alone before, now I feel alone. I am afraid that God is actually like what Apostle Paul and the Old Testament talk about (a God I cannot trust or love, a God apparently obsessed with Israel), verses the God that that Jesus presents (a God that loves me, a God that I love). It’s weird, but other Christians are making me realize how God is now who I thought he was.

I don’t know what to do now that I’ve realized the incredible emptiness in my soul.