Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hanukkah Baptism

We are focussed on the lights of Advent and Christmas in the Christian church but tomorrow evening begins another festival of lights, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. Hannukkah celebrates the miracle of light in the re-dedication of the temple many centuries ago.

I will put a Hanukkah menorah, or candelabra, on our communion table this Sunday because we will be celebrating the adult baptism of a relative newcomer to our congregation. He came to see me a few months ago, explaining that while he was raised in a Jewish family he had undergone a profound experience of Christ which led him, with some trepidation to our church. Coming to a Christian worship service was an entirely new experience.

I have to admit that in the beginning I was nervous, only because I am earnestly United Church and felt that I shouldn't be messing around in someone else's religion. In my mind this would be sheep-stealing of the worst kind. Mainline Christian clergy worry alot about "theological correctness."

Fortunately he persevered through membership classes and "learning the ropes" of worship and eventually he requested baptism. It finally occurred to me that I would be fine baptizing a converted atheist, but somehow leery about baptizing someone from the same faith in which Jesus was nourished, so I should lighten up. I can be a slow learner at times.

This Sunday I will experience a first -- the baptism of someone who has had a bar mitzvah. It will be one of the great privileges of my ministry.

I'm sure the Messiah will be pleased by this little but important miracle of re-dedication.


She of He said...

Lion Lamb; First experiances can be a wonderful thing, I am sure the Messiah will be watching and guiding you and your new members with steady hands. I am please that I will be one of the members to join your congrigation.

She of He

Adam Reiss said...

Well! :)

I'm a little speechless... And THAT's no small task. :) Thank you David so very much for your wonderful words!!

I can't tell you how exhilarated I feel to be accepted amongst such a nurturing and understanding group of people. I have never felt as welcome anywhere as I do here.

Thank you for honouring the Chanukah tradition with the menorah. A little reminder of where I’ve come from, and where I’m going on my journey of faith.

Having grown up Jewish, and experienced everything a Jewish boy / man was supposed to experience, the concept of being brought into a Christian fold was rather unheard of. I grew up in a small town, much like Bowmanville is now, being the only Jewish family around. I was surrounded by Christians, but I never really understood the bond Jesus has on his people.

When I had experienced my first real exposure to Jesus, I was confused and lost. I literally was lost for about a week, unsure of what to do, or what to say to try and understand my experience.

Somehow, through only what I can describe as divine intervention, I was brought to the doorstep of St. Paul's. With the guidance of you David, my fiancée, and with the welcoming arms of such a loving congregation, I've decided that this is where I belong. Amongst the people of Christ.

I have accepted Jesus as my personal saviour, and am looking forward to being marked as one of Christ's people on Sunday.

Thank you again for making that enormous leap of faith David. I'm not sure where I would be without you and the people of St. Paul's.

Yours in Christ,

Adam Reiss