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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Strange Workings of Baptism

A few years ago I found myself in Phoneix, AZ in February with other theologians and pastors from across the country. We had some free time one afternoon, and I wanted to avail myself of the heated pool at the hotel...all my friends declined to join me as the air temp was only 62 degrees. My friends from places like AZ, CA, GA, and TX all thought I was nuts for even considering it...but when you're from North Dakota, you have a partly sunny day, a heated pool, and any temp above 32, you call it a beach day! So, in this huge, heated pool, complete with little islands of trees and flowers scattered throughout the pool, I swam.

But I did not swim alone...because on the other side of the pool I could see another man paddling about from island to island as I was...finally, after about thirty minutes, and countless sarcastic comments from my friends walking by...I ran into the other guy at the island in the very middle of the pool. I said hi, he said, hi...and I commented on the nice pool. Yeah, he said, I like it too. I told him where I come from this is a summer day, and I couldn't imagine why more people aren't swimming...he asked where I was from...I told him "Bismarck, North Dakota." Where are you from, I asked? He looked at me and said, "Valley City." (Valley City, North Dakota is 140 miles east of Bismarck.) And his former neighbor in Valley City was now my neighbor in Bismarck...I kid you not.

Have you ever had one of those weird encounters where you meet someone you know, or you share something in common with someone, in the least likely of places? Isn't that strange how that happens?

In Christianity we hold that we are related to all Christians through baptism, so, in some ways it isn't strange to meet a brother or a sister in Christ just about anywhere...but unless we live that relationship, trust those people we meet, or risk reaching out to the stranger, we will just pass like "two ships in the night..."Christ has connected us to way more people than we realize or than we utilize in our lives...but that water of baptism--like the warm water in the pool in AZ--brings together people in ways we often cannot imagine. May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

Question for the week: Do you have a "chance" encounter story you can share?

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