Pastor Shawn Hannon
Hope Lutheran Church, Arcade, NY
I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook last week of his child celebrating his baptismal birthday by lighting a candle and praying together as a family. It was a touching photo, and a source of hope for me and all the other people who ‘liked’ it on his page. But there in the comments below was one particular response I didn’t see coming. It was from a mutual friend who was a member at a church I had served in the past. Rather than responding with positivity, he responded, “That’s great for you, but since the new regime at our church doesn’t print our baptismal birthdays anymore, I will never celebrate it again.”
So here’s the background. The former pastor(s) printed the baptismal anniversaries every week. Once this person saw their name they knew it was time to celebrate the sacred occasion where God washed them of their sin, sealed them with the Holy Spirit and promised to be with them forever. If they didn’t see their name in the bulletin how would they know to celebrate?
But before you feel sorry for him, let me ask just one question: Would your spouse buy that excuse if you decided to stop celebrating your anniversary? I mean who could actually say to their wife, “I’m sorry I forgot our wedding anniversary, honey, but the pastor didn’t print it in the church bulletin this week.” I know my wife wouldn’t buy that. She’d wonder (rightfully so) if our anniversary were as important as we say it is, why I need anyone to remind me at all?
So I’d like to ask my Facebook friend why if his wife wouldn’t buy that excuse, he thinks God will? But then I’d have to be realistic about the last time I celebrated my baptismal anniversary (9/23/84, btw—and no I didn’t need to look it up). The answer: it’s been a while.
The new pastor wasn’t standing in my friend’s way of celebrating what God has done for him in baptism. He was standing in his own way. And that’s usually the case. We have all sorts of excuses for why we don’t pray more, read scripture more, worship more, celebrate God more, serve others more, etc. And the funny thing is we know no one on earth would buy those excuses, but we expect God to.
We all have our excuses, even pastors. But what our world needs today isn’t one more excuse, but a little more faithfulness. May it start with us.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.