Yesterday, First Methodist Houston baptized 20 children of God.
They were young, old, and in between. They were Latin, African, and Anglo. They were professional and homeless. They were recovering addicts and the physically sick. They were hungry in some cases and affluent in others.
The great glory of the day was that God looks at us with none of the labels ascribed above, and for a moment that truth of heaven broke through. Hundreds more reaffirmed their baptism, and to see the tears in the eyes of an ex-con touch again the forgiveness he received through the waters Jesus offers simply brought all walls down in him, in me, and all of us.
The Holy Spirit happened. All I could do the rest of the day was smile. One. Great. Day.
Days like Sunday remind me of why I believe so little of what I read or hear.
In the Satan-riddled world, faith and church are collapsing, believers are dismissed, and if you can find an optimistic article about the United Methodist Church I would be shocked.
To be honest, I do not believe any of them. They are all false, shallow, wrong. Yesterday, I saw hundreds of people take a step forward in their faith, the work God was doing through each of them was revealed, and a glimpse of this Kingdom Jesus is building and what it is all about came through. Jesus is leading us to love God and each other.
When I compare days such as yesterday to other days, I simply cannot buy into the skepticism which is the epidemic of our time. Our world doubts faith, convictions, people. We live in a continual tearing down and in opposition to this is a Gospel of building up. Yesterday, the sinful, broken, addicted, homeless, and hurting took a step toward building the life God wants for them through the sacrament of baptism and even now Jesus is at work in the decisions they made.
First Methodist Houston is like a lot of other churches. We are answering a call to a new way of being church. We are in the most diverse parts of the most diverse city in our nation. We are debating the issues of our day as other Christian communities are. And in spite of the challenges we face, they are nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit which we saw yesterday.
This is why I am optimistic for The Church, The United Methodist Church, and in a larger way the Christian Gospel. In Jesus, God gave us what we need. We needed Him before. We need Him now. I believe in Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection and He is simply a power beyond anything we can ever know. We saw it yesterday. Thanks be to God!