Christian Initiation

This is not a secret ritual, it’s just a fancy term for the sacrament of Baptism. This part of the Easter Vigil celebrates that in Baptism, we are freed from the power of darkness and joined to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It can be formal, or perhaps more casual, but in any context, Baptism is a ritual that symbolizes light. It’s the entrance point of the light of resurrection breaking in to disturb all of the surrounding darkness.

In 2007, our church, At The Water’s Edge merged with 2 other church communities to plant Ecclesia – Clear Lake. I was less that a year sober when we began regularly worshiping together. It was lovely to be part of a bigger community as I got my feet on the ground. As my world continued to devolve, I found myself participating where I could, but keeping my distance from many leadership opportunities. In so many ways, that was grace. This pause provided me with another missing piece of the puzzle.

In this season, one of the main components of call clarification for me was my motives. I spent years serving from the wrong heart space. I know God gifted me to love and serve the Church, and in recovery, one of my greatest fights was the deconstruction of my faith and model for ministry. God did not NEED me. God wanted me. God could use all that I bring to the table as an offering. But, God is God and will do the work of re-creation with or without me. My posture had to change from ‘I’m needed’ to ‘I get to.’

This was a completely new approach to servant-hood. Previously, I was a self-announcing martyr. In this season, I was on injured reserve. What a gift to watch and learn and work WITH a team. I learned from people who were in different places, dreaming different dreams and I gained the wisdom to not have everything figured it out. With regularity, I forced myself to say my new motto – I DON’T KNOW.

The true ritual of my initiation happened as I was introduced to a group of 20-something year-old artist. Upon my initial assessment, I saw young people who I would have to oversee. This is where I was so wrong. They were talented. They were inquisitive. They were wise. They were intuitive. With their many differences, there were two things that defined our friendship – creativity and Jesus. I needed them to help me see outside of my box. I needed them to free me from the self-imposed Church boundaries that prevented me from being perfectly imperfect in ministry. I needed them as friends and counterparts.

Often, I look back on the imperfections of this season and I see the Spirit at work in ways that I could not think to ask for. In my walk from darkness to light, it was the young leaders of ECL that helped me to see my way through the darkness toward my rebuilt faith. I had safety in the rooms of AA, but I had a spiritual home around the table at Taco Cabana. Their faith and energy and ability to dream reminded me of the Church I fell in love with and wanted to serve with the rest of my life.

It was over queso and chips that I was given a gift. The Church that I longed to serve needed nothing from me but honesty. And we would never be the kind of Church that was on mission to the broken ends of the earth until the leaders could live out of that kind of faith. This season taught me that I already had all that I needed to be initiated into the ministry of Jesus, and that was me. Pure, raw, honest, broken – me.

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