“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” – Amos 8:11 (NIV)
A mother called the church not long ago and asked if we would baptize her toddler, who’d been denied baptism in another community because of Rules. The Rules didn’t make much sense to her, or to me, so we arranged to baptize the little one.
It turns out, I also have Rules about baptism, and we had to suspend those, too. Because we were still in quarantine from the Covid pandemic, the baptism was not via the lovely font under the soaring roof of our sanctuary. Instead, the water was poured into an ordinary bowl of water under an unseasonably sunny sky. Because we were still gathering virtually, the whole congregation could not witness the baptism in person. Instead, one masked representative stood in for everyone. And the toddler splashed his hand in the ordinary bowl of water in the middle of things, which seemed as holy a way to bless the water as the solemn words we had planned.
We did not follow the Rules—other peoples’ or our own.
And Christ showed up anyway.
People of God, listen. All around you, God’s children are starving because the word of God is being withheld from them. Ask yourself, is it just Rules getting in the way of them being fed? And then consider this. What if you suspended the Rules? Would Christ show up anyway?
Brother Jesus, you show up and show us the way to feed those who need feeding. Keep showing us. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.