When families get together, stories get told. The story of how Mom and Dad met and what a fool Dad looked like. The story of the disastrous family vacation that is humorous in retrospect. The story of the wonderful family vacation that has never been replicated. The story of a child’s baptism, or birth, or third birthday party. The stories of adversities faced and overcome, of milestones reached and celebrated.
Stories are told in families to give identity. If you know the story, if you own the story, then you belong to the story and to the others who also belong to the story. Stories are also told for encouragement. While we may chafe at any story that begins “When I was your age….” more often not those stories are told as a way of saying “we’ve seen these problems before and we know how to deal with them.” We should pay attention to the stories.
The same is true for the family of God. Every week when we gather, we tell the story. We tell of Father Abraham and Mother Sarah and their strange quixotic journey to the land of promise. We tell of Uncle Moses and his hit and miss attempts at leadership, of Aunt Miriam dancing and singing at redemption. We tell of Cousin Ruth and her ingenuity at securing a future for her and Grandmother Naomi. We tell of the crazy cousins – Jeremiah and Ezekiel and John the Baptist – who saw strange things and often howled at the moon. We tell of our brothers and sisters – Peter and Mary, Paul and Dorcas – and their first attempts at discipleship. Mostly, we tell of our brother Jesus.
Baptism brings us into the story, lets us own it and be owned by it. The waters give us identity and remind us that, no matter what our current afflictions, we’ve seen them before and know how to deal with them. When we are baptized, we say that we “are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation.” In other words, we become part of the story and the story becomes a part of us.
This Sunday, as we continue our series “Come On In, the Water’s Fine,” we’ll consider what it means to be “Floating” and be incorporated into the story. You might want to read a short sermon (Acts 10:34-48) before coming and hearing a slightly longer one. This Sunday has the added virtue of celebrating baptisms and welcoming some new brothers and sisters into the family. We’ve got some stories to tell them. I hope you’ll be here to help add your spin to things.
Grace and peace. rcf