What the Waters Know: Re-Reading John 1:29-42

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Photo by Erinn Fahey

By James W. Perkinson

He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure (Ps 40:2).

I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel. (Jh 1:31)

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” (Jh 1:36).

So we sit today in bit of snow here in Motown, while our news feeds show weekly pile-ups of cold precipitation elsewhere across the land—and pile-ups, as well, of twisted metal in our stupid infatuation with cars and speed—as the Great Stream of Jetting Air bends south and brutal, from the Arctic Circle to Arizona, in announcement that Change, with a capital “C’ is not future, but here.  And we wonder about the upheaval of an entire planet.  Australia become a living kiln, cooking up a billion-fold of living flesh, involuntary offerings to our wanton refusal to heed!  In Puerto Rico they sleep outside, as the fracked Earth, heaving from a thousand cuts, here, there, in Oklahoma now grinding Her teeth in warning hundreds of times per year where She used to rest soft and fecund and quiet, but in our little cousin island to the south, slipping and sliding the soil into great fear and one more sheer nightmare.  Last time—it was the sea and sky as Maria roared through.  Now it is rock and sand, all serving notice they do not plan on being raped and plundered, forever.  But it is the poor who are first forced to hear and bear the pain.  The rest of us sleep-walk in daylight and pull the covers of night over our oblivious heads.  But our time is coming as well, I am afraid.  And we are far more culpable. Continue reading

Named and Claimed By God

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Photo by Chris Baker Evens

Katie Aikins is pastor of Tabernacle United Church in Philadelphia. She and her wife Heather Bargeron are parents to their adopted 20-month-old son Oscar Emmanuel Aikins-Bargeron.  Katie preached this sermon on the occasion of Oscar’s baptism on July 21.

Baptism without the church, without the community of faith, would make no sense. One of the promises we make as parents is to raise our child in the community of faith.

This Heather and I know: That though we will make our promises to Oscar and to this church to raise him to follow in the way of Jesus Christ, to show love and justice, to resist oppression and evil, we also know that alone, we as parents will not be enough for Oscar to live into his full calling and identity as a child of God. The community of faith —the place where we are practicing resisting evil together, where we are growing together in our practices of justice and love – this is the context in which baptism unfolds in its meaning and fruitfulness.  Continue reading

Into this River: For your baptisms Ira and Cedar from your parents

baptismWritten by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
with  Erinn Fahey, Lucia & Daniel Wylie-Eggert

For the baptisms of Ira Cole and Cedar Martin
June 11, 2017

With the swallows in quick flight
The willows making music in the wind
The movement of the water at our feet
And a circle of people we love
We step into this river Continue reading

Learning from Laughter and the Trees: What do these stones mean?

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Stone tower on Block Island

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I’ve started an altar of stones beside my desk. With each death, birth, or marriage that passes, I write the name upon the rock and let the rock hold the memory and the prayer.

This fall, our family went to Block Island for the first time in many years. We used to stay in Dan Berrigan’s little cottage beside the ocean every summer. Stepping back on that ferry with my kids felt like introducing them to a piece of my heart- a piece nourished by beauty, where my mom’s hair blew fiercely in the wind, where my imagination learned to soar climbing on rocks and pulling clay from the cliff. Continue reading

Pondering on Baptism

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Our pile of rocks beside the Detroit River.

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, co-editor of http://www.radicaldiscipleship.net

After the service ended, the rocks began to pile up. Grandparents brought stones from beloved places far away and the kids waded into the water gathering rocks and adding them to the pile. We left that day, but the pile of rocks still sits beside the river as the waters pass through the Huron and toward Erie down the Detroit River.

We had just baptized Cedar Martin and his cousin Ira Cole. We read Joshua 4, where the Israelites cross the Jordan and Joshua tells them to leave a pile of rocks by the river because “One day your children will ask, “what do these stones mean?’ Continue reading