I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me.. – Philippians 1:3-7
THE STORY: Sometimes I take a photograph to capture beauty. Sometimes I look through the lens and frame a story. These pictures from Sunday morning are all story, and story is my favorite way to see the world.
My perspective at the 11:15 service was different this week because it was my turn to assist Rebekah and John as “liturgist.” This means that I led some prayers, the passing of the peace, and the responsive readings. In consequence, I sat facing the congregation and enjoyed a different view.
Last Monday I featured a couple of photographs from 9:00 worship in the CLC, and I’ll include a couple of those in the “gallery” below. I’m always startled at how completely different – yet at the same time both completely right – the two experiences are.
BAPTISM: Yesterday a young couple presented their two sons for baptism, a baby and a very vocal two-year-old! Usually, if I take a picture you can see the kids, but looking from the back they are mostly screened by their parents, and the preachers, and the story presents as a different tableau.
You can see dad holding a very determined, squirmy two-year-old, while the baby rests in mom’s arms. “Whatever happens,” this image clearly says, “your parents and your church family are surrounding you, hemming you in with love and with guidance and with the living presence of God!”
The children were baptized not just with symbolic water, but into living covenant. That’s why the questions Rebekah asks the parents, and the promises they make, are just as much a part of covenant baptism as the huge splash of water. And that’s why the questions elder Bill Stevens asked the congregation, and the affirmative responses we all made so enthusiastically, are equally important.
LENS OF COVENANT: From my vantage point behind the communion table, I could also see the faces of all those good people, representing the Wake Forest Presbyterian corner of the Body of Christ.
And what you see, when you look at the Body of Christ through the lens of covenant, is love, grace, commitment, promise, faithfulness, peace, assurance, encouragement, hope, and joy.
You don’t see any of the negative, judgmental, hypocritical, condemning, hurtful, self-defeating division that marks so much of the Christian Church today.
I think this is an important observation. You see, we all have the potential to lose focus and become lost, ornery, or negative; but when our motivation and our practice is Jesus, when it’s no longer about us but about Jesus, when we look at our world and each other through the lens of covenant, when our mission is the business of the practice of love… then that is a different story.
We – here at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church – are committed to living that different story.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.