Safety and Danger in the Church

We baptized several people on Sunday.

One of them was my son.

It was glorious!

People shared briefly of their decision to follow Christ, to be washed clean in His death, and remade in His resurrection.  And then Pastor Cap and I plunged them into a feeding trough full of water!

At the baptism of the first adult, I saw gallons of water slosh over the side and onto the floor, water went everywhere.  I thought, "well, its too late to stop it now, people are here to get baptized, and we will just clean up the mess later."  …and then we kept right at it!


Afterwards I got to thinking about the mess of the baptism, and what that says about the church as a whole.

So often we expect the church to be safe in all of the wrong kinds of ways.  We don't want anyone to come in and bring any of the world in with them.  We don't want anyone to come in who doesn't fit, who isn't tidy, who doesn't play by our rules.  In short, we want our faith community to be comfortable for us.  May our church never be this safe.

But what that ends up producing is a church culture that promotes hypocrisy, secrecy, and emotional isolation.  If no messy people are allowed into the circle of christians, then we can't let anyone know about our own messiness.  We have created a club for perfect people, and that is a very dangerous thing for a church to become.  Dangerous in all of the wrong sorts of ways.  May our church never be this dangerous.

Instead the church is supposed to be a safe place for messy people to let their messiness get dealt with.  People are supposed to bring the world with them right into our community.  The church is supposed to be a safe place for dark secrets to be exposed, it supposed to be a safe place for bad habits to be dealt with, its supposed to be a safe place for vulnerable wounds to be exposed and healed.  May our church always be this safe.

The church is supposed to be dangerous too.  Dangerous in the same way a show at Marine World is dangerous; you might get wet!  Dangerous to our comfort, dangerous to our ego, dangerous to our need for control and our desire for gratification.  Celebration is always a danger to decorum; just as worship is a danger to pride, fellowship is a danger to wealth, and glory is a danger to apathy.  May our church always be this dangerous.


It wasn't just the water that was a little 'messy.'

We joined together with another congregation during the service.  Both congregations had members to baptize, so we celebrated the unity of faith in 'one baptism' as proclaimed by St Paul.  This meant we got to hear preaching that was different than normal, got to see baptisms performed in ways that were uncomfortable for some of us, and heard things said that we didn't all agree with.

I have to say, I was blessed to see the way people entered into the mess, cleaning up the water, engaging in relationships across dividing lines, and celebrating the beauty and potency of the Spirit's work in the lives of the saints.  This is a picture of how the church is supposed to be safe in the right ways, and dangerous in the right ways...


Joshua Hopping said...

Love it!! Safe and dangerous; the tension of the radical middle.

passamike said...

What a wonderful glimpse into how the kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. So proud of you and Tamy and the rest of the christ followers there in your community. Joy overwhelms me as i read about the journey you guys are on....love ya and miss ya