Lessons from the Garden - Beneath the Surface
As I shared with you last week, I enjoy digging out the plot for the garden with simply a shovel in hand. I feel like that slows me down enough and gets me close enough to the ground that I truly get to know the soil. I learn where the hard-packed clay is, where the rocks like to congregate (and possibly multiply by the looks of it), and where the worms like to live.
A couple of weeks ago as I was digging out a fresh area of our garden, my shovel stopped only a few inches into the ground. I jumped on the shovel again, but I had no more luck. This, of course, is not an uncommon experience around here with all the many rocks lying beneath the surface. What was strange was the sound the shovel made - more a clang than a grating noise. I moved the shovel an inch or two back and tried again. This time, the shovel went right on down. I begin to pry upward, but my shovel got stuck and would not budge. After a few more tried, I realized I was not dealing with a rock at all. I dug out around object and realized it was the end of a long tube of metal. I tried to work it loose, rocking it back and forth, but it was firmly stuck way down deep. I dug and dug deeper. Fortunately no rocks were in the way and I eventually made it a good couple of feet deep. I was getting close to the end of the tube and after a minute was able to work it out of the ground. What I found was a rusty old tube attached to an elbow that had held it fast in the ground. It was no treasure to be prized - not like the old play shovel or hunting knife that the boys and I have dug up before.
The thing about digging around in the earth is that we never quite know what we will find lurking below the surface. Will we find a thorny barbs of an old rusty pipe lodged deep in the ground or will we uncover a hidden treasure? The people in our lives - family, friends, and strangers - are no different. We only know so much about them, and we barely get below the surface with that. What thorns lying hidden and yet hurting them are at the root of things which we would judge them for? What treasures have they kept buried and safe from the harshness of the world? So often, we only know people by the surface that we see and not by what truly lies beneath.
May we take the time to grow close enough to one another to see the thorns and treasures that lie hidden just beneath the surface.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Worship This Week: Praise in the Park!
Join us this Sunday, May 31, for Praise in the Park! Worship will begin at 10 am at Bradburn Park down by the river. We will recognize graduates, sing praise, and baptize and confirm new members! We will not have Sunday School but will hold a potluck lunch at the shelter following the service. Lawn games to follow. Bring a lawn chair, potluck dish, and outdoor games!
We are asking that parking at the park be reserved for our older members and guests. All others, please park at the church and walk down. Please feel free to dress informally. In case of rain, we will worship in the sanctuary and eat in the fellowship hall. Baptisms will then be held at the river in between the church service and the meal for those willing to brave the rain.
Faith Facts: Baptism and Confirmation
Have you ever wondered why we sometimes baptize infants and confirm them as youth while other denominations - including many that some of us have been a part of in the past - do not baptize anyone until they are old enough to make a decision for themselves? These beliefs in infant baptism and believer's baptism have divided Christ's church for many generations.
The United Methodist Church believes in the legitimacy of infant baptism in addition to adult believer's baptism based on the Scriptural accounts of entire households being baptized when the head of the household converted. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, spoke of infant baptism as a gift that has been entrusted to the child's parents and community until the child is ready to care for it themselves - much in the way that an inheritance of property or assets would be held in trust until a child is of legal age to care for it. Confirmation then becomes a continuation of the baptismal service in which the child accepts and commits to take of his or her own relationship with God.
In baptizing infants, we celebrate God's prevenient grace - the grace that God gives us before we even know we need it. Likewise, in baptizing youth and adults who make a decision for themselves, we celebrate God's justifying grace - the grace by which God forgives our sins and gives us a new birth into a life of loving God and neighbor. Whether we baptize someone as an infant or as an adult, we celebrate God's work in the life of the new member in Christ's body.
We do not believe that one age for baptism is superior to another or that people should choose one time over another for their children. In fact, in the United Methodist Church, we recognize a wide range of baptisms - infant and adult, by dunking and by sprinkling, and from any Christian denomination - because we believe that it is the work of God in baptism that truly matters rather than the work of the pastor or the person confessing belief.
With the river so close by here at Port Church, it makes sense that so many folks would chooose to wait for their children to be baptized as a part of confirmation rather than baptizing them at the font in the sanctuary. In the end, we believe that the choice of when to baptize a child is a personal one made by parents in conversation with the pastor. Whether it's infant or believer's baptism, we give glory to God for the grace of new life in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit!
Living in Community
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!
8525 Water Street
PO Box 116
Port Republic, VA 24471