Baptism, Death & Dogs
Dear Trinity Church, Father Matt here. Last night's lecture from Julie is vital to understanding death and discipleship. She gave a visual history of how baptism fonts shaped early Christian's identity, and how dying to ourselves is the only way to life. Before I share with you the new thing it inspired me to say when dipping my hand in the font, I wanted to show you this poem from my Uncle Eddie reflecting on the day his dog died. Too often we ignore death. This poem helped me face my own.
Over the Threshold By Edward Nudelman The month I dread most is the one upon me. Like a dog gnawing a favorite bone, October’s ghost wind rattling branches, turning ochre to gray, the sodden leaf mold eerily weeping worms. And yet, October is the month I must now trust, to deliver solace for a graying cloud of sorrow, to send its new moon to shroud and bless my attempt at peace; as beneath my feet, an army foments its needed microbial kingdom. We must sleep in darkness to achieve the deepest healing—breathing ancient atoms where the dead abide and prosper, bringing into view this fleeting beauty. October gave me Sofie—golden retriever of everything gleaming—and fourteen years later, nearly to the day, October took her back. A motley funeral procession of ghouls and pumpkins now line the roads we used to walk, hallowed ground for those whose sorrow is allowed to light a way forward. Sofie couldn’t step out when we arrived at the vet so we lifted and set her gently down, where she remained steady on all four feet. But she couldn’t advance until I moved slowly toward the door, hearing her shuffle behind, one leg turning up and dragging on the pavement— as she followed me across the threshold of another adventure, into the brilliance of her beyond.
Uncle Eddie's poem challenged me because it deals directly with death, that enemy we all avoid - at our peril, our true peril. And today passing the baptismal font, I said something different. Usually I dip my hand in, bring the waters to my chest and making the sign of the cross say, "Father, I am Matt, your beloved son in Christ!" It's an identity check which keeps me from finding my identity in being a pastor, or cool Enneagram #4, or successful this or that. But today I've been reflecting on Julie's lecture about how baptismal fonts remind us that we have already died. We died with Christ. This is the first death. And our life on earth is spent practicing death, practicing choosing death to self, which is the hardest death to die. The second death, when we breathe our last, is far easier once we've been practicing dying all along. And Eddie's poem shows that death itself is not our greatest peril. Refusing to die is. Refusing to trust the sweet soil of our decomposing. Refusing to see that each daily death gives way to life. This is what Jesus showed us, not just in his final death, but in every death he chose, starting with leaving heaven to become mortal, and every time on earth he suffered, surrendered, or waited, each time trusting his Father to let every grain that fell to the earth and die rise to give humanity our resurrection harvest. So today by the Font, I did not comfort myself with the Baptismal words Jesus heard from his Father rising from the Jordan. Instead, I reminded myself that I have already died. And I can keep choosing death - not because I have a morbid fascination with October, worms, or tranquilized dogs. But because I believe that even death serves life. And because Sofie's brilliance beyond - draws me closer to my own brilliance here and now - and hereafter. Uncle Eddie, thank you for reminding me who I am in Christ. Practicing death and resurrection daily in Him, Matt
Advent is Coming November 28
Did you know Trinity Church offers resources to celebrate Advent at home? If you are new to Advent or have long appreciated the church year season to help prepare for the great mystery of "God with us," we invite you to sign up for "Advent in Bag."
Please sign up by November 14 to receive your supplies & instructions to make an Advent Wreath, Christ Candle and other fun resources. Bags will be ready November 21 & 28 for pick up at the church. ($5-$10/bag suggested donation).
Jose & Julie: Looking for House to Rent
Jose and Julie Solano (whom Fr. Matt just married) are looking for a house to rent with at least 4 rooms. Preferably in East Wenatchee. Got any leads? Please contact Jose at (509) 860-2799 or Julie at (509) 741-0066.
From Wes Whitson: Anyone interested in learning New Testament Greek?
"I have been planning to teach my kids, and figured I might as well open up the opportunity to people at church as well. This will be a high school+ level foreign language type class, with lots of memorizing and old school grammar lessons. Given the subject, we will also get to discuss history, theology, philosophy, linguistics, and all those other things that go into understanding the New Testament as we read it. This is not a “Greek light” course - the goal is that after enough time and practice you will be able to read the New Testament in the original language.
Materials will probably run about $250. There will be book work, videos, and in person sessions probably once a week. We will plan to start in January and do one semester then. We would then have the opportunity to do another semester in the fall if it goes well. Anyone interested please let me know so I can start planning. Very motivated junior highers on up to retirees are appropriate." —Wes