Hodgepodge Dilemma

I am back to the Hodgepodge after another hiatus.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m experiencing more and more of them as fall descends upon us and as we get into the holiday grind.  Yes, I said holiday grind.  It’s started, people.  Not only is fourth quarter the busiest time of the year for me at work, but at church? With the big event that we have every year?  And I mean big–300 people on stage, even more backstage/volunteering.  And so worth it.  So today, I’m taking a moment to get back to some questions for reflection, and sharing in this week’s hodgepodge.  Plus, I have a dilemma that I have been pondering all week, and want your opinion.  So question 8 is the perfect place to ask!

1. What’s one thing you learned in September?
Wow, starting off with a bang.  I learned different investment things?  Things that are boring and I would like to forget.  Oh! I learned that I have a great great half uncle buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  A recent Washington Post article had a photo of some recently identified soldier being laid to rest.  In the foreground of the photo is a grave marker that had our last name on it.  Highly unusual, especially with that particular spelling, we started to ask questions to figure out who he was.  Kinda cool.  Never knew he existed.

2. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, zucchini squash, or blech! hold the squash!…what’s your favorite squash?  Your favorite way to prepare your favorite squash?
Butternut is just so yummy!  I love them all, truly I do.  Acorn squash with a bit of brown sugar and apples, roasted?  Yum.  Yellow squash casserole or cakes? Delish.  But butternut is my favorite.  Roasted, eaten straight out of the oven.  In Moroccan soup.  In regular soup.  In pasta.  So many things to do with it!

3. The older I get the ______________________________.
More sleep I need.  Seriously, you’d think it’d taper off a bit.  Nope. 

4. What’s your favorite television theme song ever?
I grew up in the 1980s, and there are so many from that era that I can still quote every verse to.  Cheers, The Facts of Life, The Jeffersons, Growing Pains, and so on.  But there are two that stand out, one more as a child, and one more as I grew up and learned the lyrics.  Schoolhouse Rock was so much fun as a kid, and we all mourned when it went off the air.  It was resurrected about fifteen years ago, and after working until 2am I would even get up on Saturday mornings to catch it at :25 and :55 of the 9-11am hour on TV.  The other one is the theme from M*A*S*H.  Can’t beat the best, ever.  So good.  I can’t think of any that have resonated so much in today’s TV landscape, mostly because the theme song as a genre is slowly going the way of the Law & Order chimes and the Seinfeld phrase.  But The Big Bang Theory is fun, because it takes time and energy to learn all the lyrics and then to sing them as fast as the Barenaked Ladies do!

5. What do you wish you’d spent more time doing five years ago?
Five years ago I had just been laid off from the job that I had held for a dozen years.  It wasn’t fun.  I did, however, learn to enjoy my unemployment.  To spend more time with family, time at the gym, and time focusing on my home.  Given adequate resources, I wish I had done even more of that.  My grandfather died just a few years later, and I treasure those last years with him as I was able to see him so much more often that I had in years prior.

6. What item do you most need (or want) to add to your wardrobe this fall?
I was thinking about this last night.  I think the last thing I purchased was when my brother got married in 2011.  (It’s been a slow recovery from the three years of the aforementioned unemployment, and there are other things that need attention.)  I desperately need an entire new wardrobe, as I own four pairs of identical black pants that I wear to work every day in fall/winter, and my selection of tops is slowly dwindling through age and wear.  What I most want though is dresses.  Dresses for work, dresses for church, dresses for fun.  I love dresses.  But at a size 20, it’s difficult to find non-muumuu styled clothing.  Plus my proportions just don’t lend themselves to the maxi-dress sort of living, despite how comfortable they are.  So I guess my answer is dresses!

7. On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts cartoon was introduced to the world.  What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?
I loved “Peanuts”.  And “For Better or For Worse”, because they were roughly my age.  “Foxtrot” was fun, but then came “Calvin and Hobbes”.  Never had an equal after that.  What a fantastic strip.  If you’re talking about TV cartoons, I’m going to have to go with “Schoolhouse Rock” again!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Okay.  So here’s the thing that has been on my mind since Sunday.  But it requires a bit of narrative, sorry.

The church, as a collective institution, is fading.  It is getting smaller.  As our nation moves from an active faith to a passive one it is up to those of us that are believers and active in the church to do what we can to try and keep growing.  I grew up in a very small country church, which I prefer, yet I attend what is essentially a mega-church for my community.  We have spent the year trying to repair fractures in the congregation (contemporary service goers vs. sanctuary service goers for example) through the staging of events.  Concert on the grounds.  Picnic after church.  Fair.  You name it.  This past Sunday was the culmination of a big push for community by having a service devoted to baptism.  Traditionally baptisms are done once a quarter in the sanctuary.  Anyone can be baptized, but it’s hard for those of us in the gym for the contemporary service as they are only done in the sanctuary and you miss out.  So they wanted to celebrate this covenant by having an event. 

On last Sunday evening, 120 people were baptized in a celebration of commitment and Jesus.  I was so excited, and so heartbroken that I could not attend.  Two 8000 gallon pools had to be installed on the stage to accommodate all who elected to publicly profess their decision.  Amazing.  Absolutely amazing.  

After my dinner ended, I jumped on Facebook to see who had posted videos and pictures.  Some made me sob, because I was so excited for them.  But then I noticed something that bothered me, and I’m trying to figure out if I’m just being overly nitpicky or if it’s a legitimate concern.

We have a large staff, and about a year ago something happened that bothered me.  We had several ‘directors’ (of children’s programming, worship music, youth, etc.) get promoted to ‘minister’.  Some were valid, as the people who had been promoted had the training, seminary degree, and background in their fields.  But others? Not so much.  A 22-year-old who had helped with the youth is now the youth pastor while he continues to go to college part-time to get his degree.  His wife is the junior high youth director.  The children’s pastor holds a masters in social work and is a good friend of mine.  But she is not a minister, nor has she been through an ordination process.  Is she good at her job?  Yes.  Fantastically so.  And I had no problem with them being in a position of ‘director’.  But to me, the title of pastor or minister has a bit of sacredness to it, as it infers that there has been seminary training, pastoral training, and ordination.  It’s a bothersome point to me, and one that I’m trying to get over as it’s just a title.

The first issue I had as I looked at photos and pictures on Sunday evening is that these same people are also the ones that are performing the baptisms.  I was very bothered with this.  To me, it’s almost like going to someone who wore braces to get a cavity filled.  Just because you have seen dentists and have been through it doesn’t make you qualified to do them yourself.  Am I just hung up on the title?  Are these people truly qualified to push someone under water in the name of Jesus?

The second question I have is regarding the practice of baptism.  Please note, this is in no way meant to be a debate amongst the various denominations.  I just have a question regarding what I learned as a child, what I believe as an adult, and what I saw last Sunday.

I choose to worship at a place that practices baptism by statement of the believer.  Not baptism at birth, not baptism because you’re 10 and finished a class, but baptism because you have decided that this is what you believe and want to start a new life in Jesus.  I’m not saying that you’re then destined to walk a life of piety, for we all fall short.  But it is an indication that forgiveness is there for the asking, and we are lifelong members of the church. 

There were some people who participated that were being baptized for the fourth, fifth, sixth time.  This is what I have issue with.  I understand being baptized as a child, and then again when it’s a CHOICE for you as a believer.  That makes sense to me.  But to do it over and over again, just because?  There was a 16-year-old I work with often who was dunked for the fifth time since he was ten years old.  At that point, in my mind there is no sacredness to the action.  There is no meaning behind it, as it is something you do on a routine basis. 

Again, am I just being overly sensitive?  I don’t doubt that there is some meaning behind the action that they are repeating, but does repeated baptism change the meaning of the covenant itself?  Abraham wasn’t asked a half-dozen times to sacrifice Isaac, he was only asked to do so once and through his faith the covenant was sealed.  God hasn’t flooded the world over since he asked Noah to build a floating zoo.  Jesus was only baptized once, right?  Why should it be something that requires multiple takes?

I’ll stop now as I’ve rambled on long enough.  But it’s been weighing heavily on me all week, and I know that this Hodgepodge community has a strong faith background so I wanted to post here for feedback on my mental struggles!!!

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3 thoughts on “Hodgepodge Dilemma

  1. Very complicated, I think, the topic of religion, and I tend to think you have the right to believe and practice whatever, and however you feel is best.. But to my way of thinking, when questioning others’ ways of customs, ceremonies, rules, or practices, I tell myself to just consider it to be between the individual’s/group’s and God. It’s between them, and not me. If someone wants to be baptized 20 times, then I feel that’s not something for ME to decide, nor judge… But from there, depending on the issue at hand, if I so disagree with something, so strongly, then I guess I would probably look into other churches. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. You have a right to your own opinion, much like you have a right to live in whatever kind of a house you like. You can live in a wood house, a glass house, or a brick house; and you can choose the church you go to much the same kind of way. The fit and feeling has got to be right… right? ~tina

  2. Yep, I’d be wanting to question as a leader the reason behind the multiple baptisms – what’s giong on that a person feels that need to be baptised so many times? I remember a friend of mine one night when people were getting spontaneously baptised at our church during a baptism service (as in, people suddenly deciding then and there to be baptised), and her saying ‘should i do it?’ I told her that she had already been, and that she didn’t need to again. Afterwards she thanked me, because really it was a sudden doubt that she wasn’t Christian enough because of some choices she made that she was trying to turn around from.

    On a less serious note – your answer to numer 4 made me think of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air lyrics! 🙂

  3. Hey. I thought of you yesterday as I scanned some photos and put them on Facebook. In 2002 & 2003, my oldest was a baby, and we took her to a man in Blacksburg named Ed to see his pumpkin displays. He didn’t carve the pumpkins but rather barely carved into the skins and then painted them. I found one of Va. Tech Hokies I had taken and I think you would love it. Okay, sorry. To your post. I also feel as if I need more and more sleep and I’m not sure why. # 8 is a hard one. It’s so hard to say whether what another church or religion practice is ethical or not. I was raised in a very small church, a Church of God, who is just now accepting women pastors. My girls’ youth pastor is actually our cousin also and I do know he had to ordained before he was called the ‘youth pastor’ rather than the youth leader. The Parrott Church of God doesn’t exactly practice in baptizing infants. Now if a couple wants to have their baby baptized (christenings), the pastor will preform the ceremony. My oldest daughter who is 11 decided over the summer she wanted to be baptized, because the ceremony for others was coming up and she has been attending the church since she was 3. (I stopped going regular in 2001). She was baptized and I was so proud. At age 11 and her 1st year in middle school, I think it’s fair to say, she will backslide.o As you said, we all fall short. I guess I have always believed that as long as she ask forgiveness from God in the name of Christ, that she doesn’t need to ever be baptized again. I can also understand wanting to be baptized twice. I was baptized at the age 13. I have been through a lot the past 13 years, not to mention my loss of faith. If i were to begin church again and my relationship with God, I wouldn’t mind being baptized for a second time, as a way of cleansing my soul. Though after the 1st time, I do not believe I ‘need’ to be baptized again. Also, perhaps it’s me too, but I wouldn’t want to be baptized by anyone who wasn’t ordained as a minister/pastor. I agree with what you said. I have been in the church longer in my 21 years of attendance than say the van driver that comes around to give people a ride. She is older however. I get offended when she tries to lecture me on religion and the Bible because she has been in attendance perhaps 4 years and is still in a class with the pastor. She isn’t a minister, nor trying to be. So, I feel as if she should invite me to church, and then gracefully accept my answer, and keep in her heart that she ask. If she is concerned a great deal about my soul, I feel like she should perhaps speak to the pastor about it and gather thoughts from him. So, if I went to church Sunday and she had been named a ‘minister’ and was going to be baptizing my youngest daughter, I wouldn’t allow it. This is just my opinion and how I was raised. Once again, all religions are different and that’s the freedom they should have. It would depend on how strongly you feel about this. Have you tried to speak directly to the minister of the church? I hope it works out for you. I have known a lot of people to change churches, even elderly people if the church began going against their beliefs. Good luck and I apologize this is so long. God Bless you.

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