The Value in Belonging

In our January lesson at Rhythms of Grace, we have been talking about the Baptism of Jesus.

In our modern baptismal rite, we consider that one of the ‘benefits’ of baptism is the joining of a community… in a broad, theological sense, the Body of Christ… and in a more parochial sense, a  church community.

Many years ago I was an intern chaplain at a local hospital.  I was eager and anxious to care for my patient’s spiritual needs.  One man who was a long-term patient in the oncology unit asked me if I would baptize him;  he wanted to give himself to the Lord.

I talked with him at length about his faith and his illness and his fears… and we decided, together, that baptism was a good idea.

I shared this good news with a fellow-intern and we hurried down to the Chapel to get the things that we would need for the service. ( Of course, all it really takes is a dixie cup of water and the verbal formula :”I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit..”. but we were new at this and wanted all the trimmings.)  In our trip to the Chapel, we were waylaid by a senior staff member chaplain.  As we explained, breathless, about our Mission in the Name of Christ, the chaplain’s brow grew more furrowed and his face took on a shade of grey.  “No, you’re not,” was his three word response regarding our mission.


“One must always be baptized into a community.  To whom will you report this baptism?”

We were dumbfounded.  Shocked.  Disappointed.  Angry and embarrassed.

It was my job to go back to this man and tell him what had transpired.

He took it well, and we prayed together.

He died three days later.

NOW…. what would I have done today nearly a decade later? Not sure.  These days I am under vows of obedience to my Bishop to perform my ministry in keeping with the canons of the Church.

This is a long digression, but a good story I think, that gets us thinking about the value of belonging.

When we are baptized, we join the Body of Christ.

When we are baptized, we also join one branch of the Christian Family Tree.

Rhythms of Grace serves families who have not been comfortable worshipping in a traditional church setting. 

How do you feel about ‘belonging’ to our community at Rhythms of Grace?

What sense of ‘membership’ is important to you in the other areas of your life?

Share your ideas here.  What you share might be a blessing for another.




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