Reflections on baptism and new life: themes for this Sunday’s baptismal sacrament

For some reason, there was something painful for me about the idea of being loved completely apart from what I do or do not do. It’s perhaps all we really want in life, and yet the prospect of it, stung. I’m not even sure why. Maybe because it only highlighted how much being loved apart from what we do or don’t do is so rarely something we ever encounter. — Nadia Bolz-Weber

I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo. ― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

The great struggle of the Christian life is to take God’s name for us, to believe we are beloved and to believe that is enough. ― Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday

Sunday’s texts for baptism:

Questions to consider:

  • What am I trying to control, all by myself, that I could give over to a love bigger than me? (We are partners in transformation, but we cannot do it alone.)
  • Of what must I let go— in order to allow love to simply hold me and cherish me— just as I am?
  • What part of my life, my self, my past needs to die away to make space and room for new growth, new identity, new connection?
  • What does it mean to be adopted into this messy-but-beloved, sometimes-healthy, trying-to-be-holistic, always-imperfect-human faith community?
  • What am I doing now that I think is obligatory in order to be worthy of love and grace? What if I chose to do these things, knowing I cannot earn love and grace? (Holy love and grace are gifts, freely given.)
  • What do I think needs to be forgiven in myself?

Blessing prior to Mikveh or Jewish ritual cleansing bath:

Barukh ata Adonai Elohenu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’tevillah.

Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us concerning the immersion.

בּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ עַל הַטְבִילָה


What was in that candle’s light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?
Come back, my Friend!
The form of our love is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but the Beauty.
There was a dawn I remember
when my soul heard something from Your soul.
I drank water from Your Spring
and felt the current take me.
— Rumi

The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight can liberate us from our anxiety and worries. We let go of the past and the future, and come in touch with the wonders of the present. — Thich Nhat Hanh

On Baptism

Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. — Book of Common Prayer

The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God.― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child
 

It is a symbol of your new life …. We bury the ‘old life’ and we rise to walk in a ‘new life’. Baptism is like a wedding ring, it is the outward symbol of the commitment you made in your heart, a commitment that has to be followed through and lived out on a daily basis. … It’s meant to show the world that that you love, trust, and have put your hope in Christ. — Hillsong International

Accept the past as the past and realize that each new day you are a new person who doesn’t need to carry old baggage into the new day with you. … For example, if ever I feel foolish or guilty about something I’ve done, I learn from it and attempt to do better the next time. Shame or guilt serves no one. Such feelings actually keep us down, often lowering the vibrations of those around us, as well. Living in the present moment is the recurring baptism of the soul, forever purifying every new day with a new you. ― Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace

Once you have grace, you are free. — Thomas Merton

We have to learn to live our life as a human being deeply. We need to live each breath deeply so that we have peace, joy and freedom as we breathe. — Thich Nhat Hanh

In the ritual of baptism, our ancestors acted out the bizarre truth of the Christian identity: We are people who stand totally exposed before evil and death and declare them powerless against love.  ― Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday

Simple, powerful, poignant, the Sign of the Cross is a mnemonic device like the Mass, in which we sit down to table with one another and remember the Last Supper, or a baptism, where we remember John the Baptist’s brawny arm pouring some of the Jordan River over Christ. So we remember the central miracle and paradox of the faith that binds us each to each: that we believe, against all evidence and sense, in life and love and light, in the victory of those things over death and evil and darkness. ― Brian Doyle, Credo

Baptism is one of those more effective rites that come in with the new covenant … And the fact that baptism does the miraculous work of binding diverse flesh into one body means that baptism is one of the rites that effects the social salvation of humanity. ― Peter Leithart

You know the one thing I love most about the Baptism of our Lord text is not just that God the Father says “This is my son, the beloved with whom I am well pleased”, but that God says this – before Jesus had really done anything. Think about that.  God did not say “this is my son in whom I am well pleased because he has proved to me that he deserves it, he has quiet time with me each morning and always reads his Torah and because boy can he heal a leper.”  Nope. As far as we know Jesus hadn’t even done anything yet and he was called beloved …That’s God for you. … Because in your own baptisms, God proclaims that in you his beloved children, God is also well pleased. In the waters of your baptism, God claimed and named you as God’s own. Whether it was as an infant or a youth or an adult. Whether your baptism happened in a church you can’t even remember, or in a river at Summer Camp or in a church you love or one that no longer allows you to take communion, your baptism, not matter the circumstance, was most certainly an act of God upon you. Not an act of faith that you or someone else was giving to God. Baptism, is God’s act of Gospel Love. And as is my tradition whenever preaching about baptism, here’s my standard offer: if you have never been baptized, we have water…right here, plenty of it. Come find me during open space and we’ll do it right now because you already belong to God. You are already God’s beloved … That feels like the kind of love that heaven can’t contain  … A love that is yours quite apart from what you do or don’t do … Beloved. Be loved. Just sit and be loved. Even if it hurts.  Just sit and be loved and be the beloved of God. For this is what pleases him.  — Nadia Bolz-Weber

Jesus did not begin to be loved at the moment of his baptism, nor did he cease to be loved when his baptism became a memory. Baptism simply named the reality of his existing and unending belovedness. ― Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday

I don’t know of any greater baptismal challenges that you and I face than to seek, serve and love Christ in all persons; and to strive for justice and peace among all people respecting the dignity of every human being.  As Chris Keating reminds us, “Jesus’ baptism leads him straight to the world’s misery.”  If the fact that Jesus’ baptism leads him, and each of us as well, straight to the world’s misery and tragedies doesn’t cause you to rethink the meaning of your baptism, then I don’t know what will.  — Bob Burton

Bath (excerpt) — Stuart Dybek
(full text at this link)

She mops a washcloth down his spine and scrubs
until his bones glow with the inner light of porcelain
and when his Haloed hair bursts forth into foam
he holds his nose and dunks beneath the soapy gloom
ears flooding with signals …

He swipes abstractions in the sweat, finger painting night
while Busha towels his hair
as if reviving a drowned sailor
the sea has graciously returned.
Don’t worry, Busha, your grandson is clean
for Saturday night: ears, navel, nails, inspected,
teeth unstained, cleansed as baptism
leaves the soul, pure enough to sleep
—as you instruct him—
with the angels,
cleaner than he’ll ever be again.

THIS WEEK at Jackson Community Church and Around Town

MON, Aug 19 – SUN, Aug 25

MON, Aug 19

  • Community Service: WAY STATION SHIFTS
    9am & 5pm • Way Station, 15 Grove St, No Conway
    Volunteers from JCC work “adult” and “family” shifts at Way Station. To indicate interest in becoming a volunteer with this program, please contact the Way Station.

TUE, Aug 20

  • Closed Event: CLERGY LUNCH
    12:30pm • Center Conway
    Rev Gail participates in this meeting of local clergy.
  • Community Event: NATURALIST LED HIKES in JACKSON
    10am – Noon • Tin Mountain Field Station, Jackson
    Meet at the lower parking lot at TMCC, 31 Rockwell Dr (off Tin Mine Road), in Jackson, NH. Participants of all ages a welcome.  Program fee of $5/person or $20/family; members free.
  • DEACONS MEETING
    4pm • Jackson Community Church
    Meeting to review worship plans, church programming, and community care concerns.
  • Community Event: JACKSON FARMER’S MARKET 3:30 – 6:30 pm •  Thompson House Eatery/T.H.E., Jackson, NH
    Local vendors, live music, fresh produce.
  • Community Event: NATURALIST LED WALKS
    6:30 – 7:30pm • Nature Learning Center, Albany
    Join a Tin Mountain naturalist for a dusk-time stroll through the Rockwell Sanctuary. All ages welcome. Program fee of $5/person or $20/family; members free.
  • Multi-Church Event: INSPIRED – WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY
    6:30pm • North Conway Community Center
    Come with your copy of the Inspired book and your own study Bible if you have one (we will bring extra Bibles for reference). Ministers Gail Doktor, Sue Davidson and Ruth Shaver will facilitate these weekly gatherings.

WED, Aug 21

  • TUNE UP FITNESS with Laurie McAleer 
    9am • Parish House. Fitness class. Free; open to public.
    Stretching and fitness workouts with certified fitness coach Laurie McAleer. Exercises can be adjusted to individual needs.
  • Community Event: WEDNESDAYS at WILDCAT
    Noon- 2pm • Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, Pinkham Notch
    Explore Pinkham Notch with a Tin Mountain naturalist and learn about the diverse ecology of the region. Programs are free and open to the public. Alpine program requires the purchase of a gondola ticket. More info.
  • Community Event: BEAR SMART
    4pm • Whitney Community Center
    Diana Bell of Bretton Woods will be presenting a talk on the Bear Smart Program. Get Bear Smart (www.bearsmart.com) is a voluntary organization whose goal is  “to minimize the number of bears killed as the result of human-caused problems.”
  • Community Event: MONARCH MANAGEMENT
    7pm • Tin Mountain Conservation Center,
    Albany
    Heidi Holman, NH Fish & Game, will explore monarch life cycle and ecology, conservation efforts, and citizen science programs to help monitor the species.

THURS, Aug 22

  • Community Event: OLD GROWTH HIKE
    8am – 3pm • Meet at Grants parking lot, Glen
    Tin Mountain Conservation Center helps explore old growth sites in the region. Dave Govatski will lead participants to old growth stands at stops including Snyder Brook, Cold Brook Falls, and Lafayette Brook. Participants should pack a lunch and water and prepare to spend the day outside.
  • YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • 1st Floor, Parish House / Jackson Community Church.
    Beginning stretch, flow and align yoga; safe for new practitioners. Fee for this program.
  • Community Service: NO CARROLL COUNTY CAREGIVERS NETWORK
    9am • Granite State campus
    Rev Gail attends.
  • Community Service: WAY STATION HOURS
    9am & 5pm • Way Station, 15 Grove St, No Conway
    Volunteers from JCC work “adult hour” shifts at Way Station. To indicate interest in becoming a volunteer with this program, please contact the Way Station.
  • Community Event:  FAMILY HOUR
    10:30am • Jackson Public Library
  • Community Event: NATURALIST-LED BOAT CRUISE
    4pm • East Shore Drive, Madison
    Tin Mountain Conservation Center and Fish Nerds Guide Service offer 90-minute boat cruises on scenic Silver Lake in Madison, NH. Price: $25/person, $15/child 16 and under. $5 discount for TMCC members. Reservarions required: call Tin Mountain at (603) 447-6991.
  • AA
    6:30pm • Second Floor, Church.

FRI, Aug 23

  • PASTOR’s DROP-IN HOURS
    7-8:30am • J-Town Deli
    Come for caffeine, conversation. Or make a separate date to meet with Rev Gail by calling her cell (978) 273.0308 or email.
  • PASTOR’s OFFICE HOURS
    9:30 – 11am • Jackson Community Church
    Make a date to meet with Rev Gail by calling her cell (978) 273.0308 or email.

SUN, Aug 25

  • HISTORIC TRIANGLE SERVICE
    8am • Historic Triangle at corner of Black Mountain Rd and Wilson Rd, Jackson
    Commemorative blessing with poetry, song and reflection at The Triangle Site, where the first church in Jackson was located: a Free Will Baptist Church built in 1803. Bring a folding chair. Refreshments available on-site afterward.
  • WORSHIP
    10:30am • Jackson Community Church.
    * Story: Rev Gail
    * Accompanist: Alan Labrie
    * A baptism is scheduled for this worship service

Sunday, August 18: Jazz & BBQ

JAZZ WORSHIP
with Heather Pierson
plus GOODBYES
to Sam & Betsey Harding and Judy Shuman

10:30am • Jackson Community Church


plus GOODBYES
to Sam & Betsey Harding and Judy Shuman

10:30am • Jackson Community Church

  • Jazz Music: Heather Pierson & Friends
  • Story: Rev Gail Doktor
  • Accompanist: Alan Labrie
  • Bring a word of appreciation for our friends who are moving away (Hardings & Shuman) – we’ll share those messages during the worship service

CHURCH & COMMUNITY BBQ
Noon • Church Campus

  • Lunch at the church (rain or shine)
  • Chefs wanted!  Contact church if you can wear an apron and wield BBQ tools!

THIS WEEK at Jackson Community Church and Around Town MON, Aug 12 – SUN, Aug 18

MON, Aug 12

  • Community Service: WAY STATION SHIFTS
    9am & 5pm • Way Station, 15 Grove St, No Conway
    Volunteers from JCC work “adult” and “family” shifts at Way Station. To indicate interest in becoming a volunteer with this program, please contact the Way Station.

TUE, Aug 13

  • NH Conference: ANNUAL MEETING PLANNING COMMITTEE CALLS
    9am – 1pm • Conference Call
    Rev Gail participates in planning of worship and programming for NH Conference’s annual meeting in October.
  • Community Event: NATURALIST LED HIKES in JACKSON – Historic Tin Mine
    10am – Noon • Tin Mountain Field Station, Jackson
    Meet at the lower parking lot at TMCC, 31 Rockwell Dr (off Tin Mine Road), in Jackson, NH. Participants of all ages a welcome.  Program fee of $5/person or $20/family; members free.
  • Private: PASTORAL CARE SESSIONS
    1:30pm • Jackson Community Church
  • WAY STATION LEADERSHIP MEETING
    4:30pm • Way Station, 15 Grove St, No Conway
  • Community Event:  ADULT BOOK GROUP
    4:30pm • Jackson Public Library
  • Community Event: JACKSON FARMER’S MARKET 3:30 – 6:30 pm •  Thompson House Eatery/T.H.E., Jackson, NH
    Local vendors, live music, fresh produce.
  • Community Event: NATURALIST LED WALKS
    6:30 – 7:30pm • Nature Learning Center, Albany
    Join a Tin Mountain naturalist for a dusk-time stroll through the Rockwell Sanctuary. Listen for birds, frogs, and evening insects. All ages welcome. Program fee of $5/person or $20/family; members free.
  • Multi-Church Event: INSPIRED – WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY
    6:30pm • North Conway Community Center
    Come with your copy of the Inspired book and your own study Bible if you have one (we will bring extra Bibles for reference). Ministers Gail Doktor, Sue Davidson and Ruth Shaver will be facilitating these weekly gathering.

WED, Aug 14

  • PASTOR’s DROP-IN HOURS
    7-8:30am • J-Town Deli
    Come for caffeine, conversation. Or make a separate date to meet with Rev Gail by calling her cell (978) 273.0308 or email.
  • PASTOR’s OFFICE HOURS
    9-11am • Second Floor, Jackson Community Church
    Make an apt with Rev Gail by calling her cell (978) 273.0308 or email.
  • TUNE UP FITNESS with Laurie McAleer 
    9am • Parish House. Fitness class. Free; open to public.
    Stretching and fitness workouts with certified fitness coach Laurie McAleer. Exercises can be adjusted to individual needs.
  • Community Event: WEDNESDAYS at WILDCAT – Pond Full of Fun
    Noon- 2pm • Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, Pinkham Notch
    Explore Pinkham Notch with a Tin Mountain naturalist and learn about the diverse ecology of the region. Programs are free and open to the public. Alpine program requires the purchase of a gondola ticket. More info.

THURS, Aug 15

  • YOGA with Anjali Rose
    9am • 1st Floor, Parish House / Jackson Community Church.
    Beginning stretch, flow and align yoga; safe for new practitioners. Fee for this program.
  • Community Service: WAY STATION HOURS
    9am & 5pm • Way Station, 15 Grove St, No Conway
    Volunteers from JCC work “adult hour” shifts at Way Station. To indicate interest in becoming a volunteer with this program, please contact the Way Station.
  • Community Event:  STORYTIME
    10:30am • Jackson Public Library
  • Community Event: ECOFORUM – SUMMER RESEARCH RECAP
    Noon • Nature Learning Center, Albany
    Join us for lunch and gain a deeper understanding of Tin Mountain’s current research initiatives.
  • AA
    6:30pm • Second Floor, Church.

FRI, Aug 16

  • PASTOR’s DROP-IN HOURS
    7-8:30am • J-Town Deli
    Come for caffeine, conversation. Or make a separate date to meet with Rev Gail by calling her cell (978) 273.0308 or email.

SAT, Aug 17

  • Private Event: WEDDING VOW CELEBRATION
    Rev Gail officiates at Murphy-Wiswell celebration.
  • Community Event: MT WASHINGTON BICYCLE HILLCLIMB – Tin Mountain Fundraiser
    More information about participating.

SUN, Aug 18

  • INTERFAITH GATHERING @ GAZEBO
    8am • Gazebo. Hot beverages available. Come for poetry, literature, conversation and prayer.
  • MEMBERSHIP Q&A
    9:15am • Jackson Community Church.
  • JAZZ WORSHIP
    with HEATHER PIERSON & FRIENDS
    plus GOODBYES to SAM & BETSEY HARDING and JUDY SHUMAN

    10:30am • Jackson Community Church.
    * Story: Rev Gail
    * Accompanist: Alan Labrie
    * Jazz Music: Heather Pierson & Friends
  • CHURCH & COMMUNITY BBQ (rain or shine)
    Noon • Jackson Community Church campus
    * Lunch at the church (rain or shine).
    * Chefs wanted! Contact church if you can wear an apron and wield BBQ tools!
  • Community Event: MAGIC of BENNY GOODMAN with Peter & Will Anderson Trio (Mountain Top Music Program)
    4pm • Private Home in Glen
    $35/per person.  More info and tickets.

Farewell to Jack Dunn

The family of Jack Dunn contacted Jackson friends to share the news that Jack died at 2pm on Saturday, August 10, surrounded by family. They gave permission to share this news, and we will pass along updates about services in the Exeter area as they are announced.

Jack was a “giant in our community” as Jackson friends Sam and Betsey Harding described him.  Patti and Jack moved from Jackson, NH to RiverWoods in Exeter, where they have enjoyed a vibrant life and Jack served on the community’s Board of Trustees. He was introduced to the RiverWoods community with the following brief biography:

“Patti and Jack Dunn moved to The Ridge at RiverWoods in 2015. They had lived in Jackson, NH for 25 years, during which time Jack was moderator of the Jackson Community Church and chaired the capital campaign committee that added a new parish hall. He served on the board of Fryeburg Academy, ME, and led two strategic planning committees. He and Patti have been board members and Jack was board chair of Mountain Top Music Center. Jack and Patti led a capital campaign that gave the school its first permanent home and a small endowment.

Jack was Executive Director of the Mount Washington Observatory from 1996 to 1998. From 1992 through 1995, he served as President of Dean College, a two-year private institution in Franklin, Massachusetts. In the late 1980s, Jack founded HEDS, a 125-school data-sharing consortium, to assist colleges and universities in planning, assessment, and management. He worked at Tufts University from 1969 through 1989 in various capacities. As Vice-President for Planning, he was involved in campus planning, fund-raising planning, major curriculum overhaul, and long-term strategic planning; he also staffed a number of key personnel searches.

After college, Jack spent two years in the U.S. Army and then went to work for the Budd Company in Philadelphia, Detroit, Gary, and Buenos Aires, the last as Vice-President and General Manager of Armetal, S.A.C.I., Budd’s manufacturing operation in Argentina. Mr. Dunn is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wesleyan University (BA, 1956) and of Harvard (EdM, 1970). He has written and lectured on higher education topics and consulted with several colleges as well as serving on the boards of Dean College, Wesleyan University, the Association for Institutional Research, EDUCOM, and the Society for College and University Planning.”

Jack and Patti are both beloved figures in Jackson, NH and remain an integral part of the story of Jackson’s faith community, as well as the whole village and the wider valley. Jack will be deeply missed.