January 18, 2014
Written by Steven Liechty

Donna Schaper

"After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me." - John 1:30, 31

John the Baptist diminishes himself here.  He shows that he knows who Jesus is and who he is.  Can you imagine Jesus' response to his self-diminishment?  I can.  "Oh, John, you need not put yourself down to lift me up."  Remember that Christmas carol we sang, "Mild he laid his glory by, Born that we no more may die."  Jesus didn't ask John for self-diminishment.  Instead he offered baptism, a way in to Jesus' power.

Those who are baptized flow.  We stagnate too, but for shorter periods.  We know the path back to flow.  A flowing stream and a stagnant pond don't have much in common. People who hide their spirituality under their hat don't have much in common with the waterfall types, those whose cup overflows with gladness.  How much flow and how much stagnation does our faith have?  Here is one metric.

Give yourself one point if you know how to say these words, joyfully, "Baptismatus Sum," meaning "I am baptized."

Give yourself another point if you have told somebody lately how much your faith helps you out.

Did you do anything new in the last year or this first month of the New Year?  Give yourself five points.  You are flowing.

Finally, if you don't have any points yet, ask to see your baptismal photos or get somebody to tell you the story of what happened on the day you were sprinkled or dunked, that day when the cross became a kind of spiritual tattoo for you.  Then give yourself a point and congratulations for doing so well on the great tests of faith.


O God, teach us the steps that open up our flow into faith.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.

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