Baptism is something Christians do to wash away sin and take upon themselves the name of Christ. It does not need to be any more complicated than this.
I attend church every Sunday with the family. However, I do not attend Sunday School. I just sit in the foyer on the couch and read to myself and occasionally talk with stragglers like myself. Attending Sunday school is very difficult for me. It’s too speculative, too theoretical. Nothing ever gets done because we never get organized.
I do not mind the emotional parts, the crying and testifying of one’s knowledge, or feeling something spiritual, which I wonder about, but I do question the results. Let me explain.
Which would you prefer to do on Sunday–worship Christ or serve one another? If you say “worship Christ,” this would include singing, maybe taking the sacrament, listening to a talk, fasting and maybe some prayer. Worship does not necessarily include “serving one another.”
This is why I would rather build a community garden to make sure everyone has fresh produce, or perhaps put a new roof on a widow’s home in my neighborhood. This has a real call to action, something greater than Sunday worship. I would rather meet with other business owners to create a community health care service and return vital wealth and voice back in the community. This too me is “taking on the name of Christ.” What if we defined worship in this way? What if worship is service conserved in the community? What if Christianity is a community thing? This would certainly be more optimistic. A baptism into this kind of covenant is something special.
Listening to a teacher in Sunday School is frustrating because I want to ask too many questions and engage in long discussion, often with a singular intent to act on something that adds value. Perhaps if we had more discussion with a real call to act this would get me going. You see, I am a radical. A radical wants to get to the root essence of something and then act on it. The Oxford English Dictionary defines radical as “…belonging to, or from a root or roots; fundamental to or inherent in the natural processes of life.” The root essence of being a Christian is to love one another in service, to know the principle and act on it. Everything else can be a fastidious religious practice.
I remember the movie Witness with Harrison Ford who played that part of a detective trying to protect an Amish boy who was a witness to a murder. In that movie Ford’s character hides out in an Amish Community to heal from a gun shot wound. As he begins to recuperate he joins the community in a barn raising.
I could sit through the most boring Sunday School lesson if I knew we were going to raise a barn the next day. A real call to act like this is more inspiring, more relational, and more connecting. This is what we are missing today, more calls to act as a community to bring us together. Instead we have a stale worship from a pulpit or lectern, which sometimes is okay but mostly really boring.
Genuine optimism is a call to action, something the entire community can sink their teeth into. The more culture we build that unites a community, the more we will get people like me involved. And there are a lot of people like me, people who sit and remain quiet and uninvolved, people with drive but no community structure to engage their drive.
There will come a day, a day of crisis, when all the couch sitters finally get to jump up and do the work they desire. Until that day, for now, their particular need for applied action as a community effort is too disrupting for those in power. The current establishment powers everywhere in the community tend to marginalize those with passion to add value because it threatens their authority, specially when the action involves the entire community. The true spirit of leadership moves without proper authority.
Let me end with this. Genuine leadership takes responsibility because it is suddenly free and welcome to take. A renaissance is coming as responsibility begins to fracture by the heavy weight of top-heavy control. When all vertically integrate power structures begin to fall, responsibility will suddenly become more accessible and more affordable for all to take. In that day mountains of know-it-all controllers will become valleys and the valleys of the genuine will become mountains. This will all change when we figure out how to organize using natural leadership and not appointed or authority leadership. I will explain the difference in my next post.
Keith R Kelsch, The Genuine Optimist