I was riding my bicycle on a wind-trainer indoors, listening to a Nadia Bolz-Weber sermon for a “quiet time.” My body needs to be distracted in order for my mind to be quietly absorbed. Think of it as Thich Nhat Hahn’s walking meditation, as a mindful Methodist.
Anyway, Nadia was explaining what she learned from Ross Merkle at St. Paul Lutheran Church about baptism. The Rev. Merkle said, “Baptism is always God’s action upon us, no matter the circumstances, which means that baptism is for you. It’s just not about you. So, it doesn’t matter that yours happened in a church you ended up leaving. Baptism is about God.” When I heard that, I teared up and wondered, “What’s up with that?”
What about my baptism? My parents weren’t very religious, but they brought me to Los Gatos Methodist Church as an infant. I cannot remember it. My parents and their generation of my family are all deceased. It does not matter that my baptism happened fifty-eight years ago and no one alive remembers it.
My baptism was about God’s action for me, claiming me as God’s child. I was a baby, completely dependent upon my parents for everything, when God’s grace (unmerited favor) gushed out like water from a firehose. God was for me. And God called me Her child, not because I had done anything wonderful. Grace is simply beautiful like that.
My favorite theologian Frederick Buechner wrote about the meaning of grace. “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.” Grace was a gift to me before I even knew about it.