Baptizing Jimmy

Jimmy was baptized yesterday.

I will never forget the day Jimmy first walked through our doors, finding us because we were a short walk from the group home where he lives. It was a Sunday morning, so I was doing my normal Sunday morning thing, which looks a bit like a chicken running around with her head cut off, as I made sure all the preparations for worship were in place that day.

I saw Jimmy come through our doors where he was met by Mark, one of the members of our church. The next time I saw the two of them, it was on my last pass from the sanctuary to my office, just before worship would begin. They had settled in at a table in our fellowship space and were deep in conversation with one another. As I stood in my office, grabbing a stole and getting my microphone on their conversation wafted in my open door. I heard Jimmy sharing with Mark about his life in the most real and honest way. I was struck that the vulnerability he was offering up to Mark, was something it would take most of us years to do when we enter a new faith community and here was Jimmy doing it on day one. I heard Mark respond to him with Gospel words – good news words – spoken with authenticity and love and shared in the most down to earth way – words of love that never ends – grace that doesn’t have to be earned – a God that doesn’t dwell on our past, but loves us in the here and now.

Before rushing off to lead worship, I paused and I prayed words of thanksgiving for this man whose name I did not yet know, for the heart of Mark and God’s work through him that day. I also prayed words of hope – hope in the power of that love and grace Mark was proclaiming.

At the time, I had no idea what the fruit of that first encounter, that first conversation, that quickly uttered, yet heartfelt prayer would be.

Yesterday, in worship, we got to celebrate those fruits.

Jimmy was baptized yesterday.

Mark, Jimmy and Pastor Clare at Jimmy’s baptism. Best picture ever.
Photo credit: Katie Sleigh

I had the joy and privilege of pouring waters of love and grace over his precious head in the name of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. Mark stood by his side as his baptismal sponsor, promising to continue to nurture and support Jimmy on his journey. Our congregation promised the same thing, as they bore witness to this incredible Spirit-filled moment with tears in their eyes.

Yesterday, we also celebrated the gift that Jimmy has been to the life of the church. When he first opened our doors and walked on through them – the Spirit came rushing in with him. Jimmy has taught us so much in his time with us already. He has taught us something about being open, honest and vulnerable with one another, he has shown us the power of radical hospitality and community, he has encouraged us with his own curiosity about and hunger for God’s word, he has inspired us with earnest heart-felt prayers. Most times I see Jimmy he has a question for me that has risen up in his scripture reading or prayer time or documentary watching from the week before. We have a men’s Bible Study at our church now, because frankly, Jimmy demanded it. He came to us deeply wanting to learn and to grow in his relationship with his God. That yearning within him, has inspired a similar yearning within so many of us.

Jimmy was baptized yesterday.

It was a beautiful day – full of thanksgiving and hope and joy – oh so much joy – joy upon joy upon joy.

We are building up a heritage of love here at HPC. That heritage is stronger because Jimmy walked through our doors. Can’t wait to see who comes through them next.

We worship on Sundays at 10:30am or 5:00pm – come on by.

#heritageoflovekc #opendoors #spiritisontheloose #joyuponjoyuponjoy #comeonby

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