Thursday, December 14, 2006
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.