Somewhere around the age of 11 I dipped my toe into the waters of baptism. I say that because my first baptism was taken with the mindset of a child. Although it was valuable, the commitments I was making to my Savior, Jesus Christ, were made from the perspective and worldview of that 11 year old. It was a milestone; it was a gate being opened to the next level of my life, or so my child's mind imagined. I felt a holiness and a challenge that I hope most children feel when they are baptized. The temptations and the weight of the world had not yet begun to press on me in earnest.
Somewhere around the age of 14 the world really began creeping in. Music, sex, wealth, power, politics, peer pressure, hate, racism, the truth, the greyness of reality; they all began to play a part in my life. Depression and something called self-esteem began to rear it's ugly head. Until this moment in my life, my prayers consisted of helping my mom and dad be ok, and desperate searches for the things I'd lost, ie...toys, keys, loose change. The prayers I was praying began to include darker and heavier requests for which I had little power or experience to overcome.
With my 11 year-old baptism came new privileges. I was suddenly able to take communion. The juice and the flat square of bread were now available for my consumption. The novelty of this new obligation soon wore off. I battled valiantly to keep my heart on the true meaning of Communion. I desperately kept the ideal mental image of Christ and his sacrifice in my mind, but eventually Communion became another in a line of requirements that came with my Adventism. The washing of feet became a burden akin to taking out the trash or doing the dishes, in other words, a chore. I had discovered what it is to be Adventist without the Christianity. I knew what is was to feel as though I was making a sacrifice to participate in my church's Communion. The decision to even show up was a struggle.
This erosion of my relationship with Christ flowed directly into my discovery of what the world had to offer. Although the life and discoveries of a teenager do not encompass the existence and struggles of an adult, many of the struggles we begin at this tender age still challenge us and dog our every step from the time the light comes on to the day the lights go off.
I cannot say that each and every time I take hold of my tiny glass of juice today, that my heart is in the right place. I will tell you that as my heart has become full of the love that I eventually discovered for my friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, the meaning became much more solid and real. I have a measure of knowledge of the hate that poured from his enemies on this earth. I have a minor measure of the betrayal that poured forth as the hearts and minds that Christ had ministered to and healed turned to hate and a desire for His execution. I have a better idea of the pain and agony He endured physically, even as I begin to understand how I'll never fathom the depth of His true agony under the weight of our sin.
Your experience may or may not match mine, but it is clear to me that our membership is not a membership free of pain and sorrow. Our people are not free from the temptations and burdens of this world. We are not ignorant of the present hell that can be our current existence. I am very aware of what a difference Jesus can make in a life carrying all of these back-breaking troubles. This journey to peace begins with your acceptance of His sacrifice. This journey cannot and will not happen overnight or in the span of a church service, but is worth the lifetime it may take to get to know our Savior.
Join us as we journey together. Join us as a family here at Sligo Church as we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as we partake in the emblems and acts of humility that are simply meant to bring us closer to the center of grace and righteousness and the deep love of Christ.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Pastor for Media and Outreach