Quite a Sight

Harris Creek Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, August 14, 2022

This week a couple of friends of ours were baptized at Harris Creek Baptist Church. It was something to see.

I am not part of Harris Creek, but I am part of the body of Christ, and to see over fifty people enter the waters for baptism is a reason for rejoicing. Children, teenagers, college students, parents entering the waters and then turning to baptize their children, adults in the latter half of life, the pastor baptizing, parents baptizing, grandparents baptizing, and powerful testimonies of new life in Christ. All incredible. A sight to see, for those with eyes to perceive it.

Baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inward, spiritual reality, and an encapsulation of the gospel story. We are buried with Christ in baptism and are raised to walk in the newness of resurrection life. It is an act of obedience, following Jesus’ example, and a yielding of the self to his command.

Jesus commanded his followers to go, make disciples, and to baptize into the Trinitarian reality, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all who would enter the kingdom. The water is for a moment. Life with God is for eternity. We remember our baptism. Our life is a testimony to what it means. What story does your life tell?

God continues to call people into a life of relationship in and through Jesus. Few or many, salvation is by grace. The Christian message is, in part, a call to repent and be baptized, to turn from one spiritual reality and into another, from death into life for a lifetime and beyond.

That invitation is open to all.

Bad Headline. Powerful Journey.

This is a really great story about a guy named Anthony Federico.

Back in 2012 Federico worked at ESPN, and he wrote a terrible headline about Jeremy Lin, who played at that time for the New York Knicks. I remember reading Federico’s headline at the time, disbelieving that someone could fail to see the implications that would follow from their choice of words. I vaguely recall taking a screen shot in my office at home and saying, “Well, that’s a mess up.” Federico apologized and said he made an honest mistake. Soon thereafter he was let go by ESPN.

The whole experience was deeply devastating. People were wicked, social media outrage avalanches kept rolling, and death threats were hurled toward Federico. You can imagine how he felt. But Federico eventually was invited to lunch with Jeremy Lin. He apologized. Lin accepted his apology. Federico tells how that conversation proved to healing, of benefit for his mental health. Life went on.

He got a new job. During the lunch hour, he would go on walks, and he would pass by the open doors of a Catholic church. Martin Kessler reports:

“On one of my [Federico’s] walks, I happened upon a Catholic church, a busy basilica in the middle of downtown Stamford that was having Mass during the day,” he says. “And I didn’t even know that Catholics go to Mass on weekdays, and not just on Sundays. But the doors were open. I could see them going to church in there and [thought] maybe that could be cool, but, ‘Nah, I’m not that kinda guy.’

“So on the first day I go past it, and second day I go past it. And, how biblical, on the third day I decide I’m going to go to church in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday. And I went into this 12:10 p.m. Mass. The regulars kind of called it the ‘suit and tie Mass’ because all the businessmen and women would leave their offices and come to Mass on their lunch break. And I started going to Mass every day on my lunch break. And it’s this oasis of stillness and silence and ritual, and it was just such a sharp contrast that it called to me.”

Federico noticed that, before Mass, the priest would hear confession.

“And often the line was so long for people going to confession that the priest would have to apologize to the five or six people still waiting in line, because he had to run up and start the Mass on time,” Federico says. “And, every day, I would see on this priest’s face this, like, anguish. So I was watching him one day, and I said, ‘Lord, if only we had more priests, we could have two lines of confession going —’  Ohhh, ‘If only we had more priests.’ “

Federico says that as a kid people had told him he should grow up to be a priest. But he hadn’t really taken the idea seriously. Until now.

That’s a powerful turn. Federico now serves as a priest. He shares how his experiences have helped him to relate to people who are suffering and to minister to them. He has an experiential reference point from which to understand how others feel when they are angry at God or believe God has abandoned them.

I enjoyed reading this story as a sports fan, but more so as a Christian. Check it out.