Carol Bechtel was my favorite (and only) Hebrew professor at Western Seminary. Her demeanor (sp?) at the podium is no different than it was in the classroom. She is soft spoken and I would say gentle. She often is, but her report this morning was sharp and to the point; like a life guard who warns children not to get too close to the deep end of the pool. Her reflections on worship, on baptism, and on commissioned pastors were insightful and a care-filled warning.
Where is worship in the pursuit of our call? Where is grace in our view of baptism? Where is our integrity in the commissioned pastor process? Of course, Carol was more pastoral in her phrasing, but no less direct. As with worship yesterday, I was convicted that what we are doing is important. For example, we're not just talking about baptism in the church. At it's heart we are talking about God's providence, grace, and the good news we have to share with parents who love their children. It's not irrelevant to society, then, if some churches or pastors in the RCA are choosing not to baptize infants. It bears directly on the message we have to share with them.
Carol began her speech with a "thank you." So, I'll end this post with a "thank you" as well. Thank you Carol for the warnings. If we aren't careful with such essential tasks as worship, baptism and who we call pastor, we are in danger of slipping into waters that are too deep for us to get out of. Let's hope that Carol's warnings bring us back into more manageable waters.