29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
Some things seen cannot be unseen. Some things heard cannot be unheard. To truly witness an event is to open yourself up to being changed by it.
The first time I ever witnessed an infant being baptized, it was in Chicago at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church, the place that would re-birth my life in ministry. I'd been raised to believe that baptism should be done by one's own choosing after experiencing salvation, and that baptizing an infant was not "scriptural." Yet, as the congregation gathered around this child, as the minister spoke the words over the waters, as the charge was given to the parents, the family, and to the community of faith to raise this child up in the Way, as the water was poured over the child, as the child was named as God's beloved, and as the child was presented to the community, I was moved to tears. Something changed inside me (I'm deliberately avoiding using lyrics from Wicked right now).
Imagine living during the time of Christ. Imagine him walk over to a woman, you know, that woman, and talking to her. Imagine seeing him touch those who everyone else deemed untouchable. Imagine seeing fish and bread grow exponentially, able to feed the masses and still have leftovers. Imagine being on a boat in the middle of a storm and hearing him calm it with a mere three words. Imagine him speaking to the religious leaders with such candor and righteous indignation that these "men of God" went pale-faced and ran away with their tails between their legs. Imagine being in the room and seeing him appear when you know, you know, that he was just dead and buried three days ago — you were there, you saw it.
Imagine being that person, the one who felt unloved, unwelcomed, unseen and unheard, and having him look you in the eyes, touch you on the shoulder or on the face, and feeling loved, seen, and known.
In this season, keep your eyes peeled for the impossible, for the unthinkable, for those people and those events that cannot help but change you forever. There is plenty out there to be seen, to be witnessed, but we have to open our eyes.
**If you want to follow along with the devotional lectionary I’ll be using for this series, you can find ithere via Pittsburgh Theological Seminary**
photo credit: Aditi Basu (via Flickr)