On Sunday, April 23rd, Journey Church staff baptized a bunch of people. Yes, the water was a bit uncomfortable, but the sun was out and folks could change out of their wet clothes pretty easily. We have held these occasions in motels, lakes, pools and watering troughs. As always, our intent is to celebrate a time of new beginning, new chapter or fresh start. At other venues, we collected tiny pebbles from the beach and placed them in clear jars with a scripture and date. These little gifts were mementos of this special event, marking a long term commitment. This year, we mixed things up a bit.
Seriously, what’s in the box?
Before the event, we knew we would have a few moments to visit briefly with the candidates preparing to make this public proclamation to commit. They were going to say in front of God and everybody, “YES!” They would enter the water one way and come out another! Really? Yes! They were going for a washing, cleansing, bench marking, or time to create a new person.
So how does that connect to the box?
The box had a few dozen assorted rocks, each pretty unique, each with character, lots of symmetry and lots of randomness but totally different from the one next to it. Some had scars, perceived imperfections and irregularities. Just like we all gather together and find as many differences as we do similarities. We are just like everybody else but we are an individual, all at the same time. Hence the Rock. Participants all picked out a rock. These rocks represented their lives with all the character, uniqueness, individuality, scars, imperfections and personality, just like us! The rocks are all different and we are all different.
But, here’s the twist…
Each rock had a graceful little ribbon, wrapped and tied in a bow. Contrasting the rugged and scarred surface of the rock, the ribbon nearly sparkled, drawing attention to the color and changing the piece substantially. It is this same contrast that sets us apart as we begin the process and event of getting better, turning around and learning to walk the walk. God looks at the rocks and sees the ribbon, the beauty, the special grace, finesse and compassion that covers us like the blood of His Son. Does he recognize we have sinned? Yes. Does he count that against us? No. Does He love us regardless? Yes. It’s sort of like He lets us fellowship with him because of the ribbon, the grace, the humility or the work of his Son on the Cross that acts as our cleansing agent.
The box had a bunch of random rocks tied with different little bows all represented the individuals. It’s the dynamic and varied backstory that makes the new story so beautiful. Well done, those of you that have taken this next step. Is it over now? No. It’s only the beginning, of a great big audacious adventure. Hang on.
Tom & Jayne McCracken