Oakland church

Archive for Epiphany

Baptizing Kittens & Pure Intentions

cat nursing kittensOne of my favorite books to give as a gift this Christmas is Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. The book’s narrator is an elderly minister who knows he’s about to die after a long and faithful but fairly quiet life as a pastor. He’s writing to his young son, the child of a late-in-life marriage to a much younger woman, about things like watching his little boy play in the sprinkler, and a young couple walking in the rain. Water, the stuff of life. But he also tells the story of one of his childhood exploits as a preacher’s kid who, with another PK, decided to baptize a litter of kittens. The boys took this all very seriously, he says, but the mother cat didn’t appreciate what they were doing with her babies, and she interrupted their little service and took the kittens away – right in mid-baptism.

Afterward, the preacher’s little boy tries to reflect theologically on what had happened that day, but when he asks his father the pastor – just sort of theoretically, of course – about baptizing cats, he gets a stern lecture about respecting the sacraments. The boy, of course, felt that they had been respectful, for “we thought the whole world of those cats.” Now, at the end of his life and after many years of baptizing the faithful of his flock, the old pastor looks back on that day from his childhood, and he remembers the feel of “those warm little brows,” experiencing the difference between petting a cat and touching it “with the pure intention of blessing it.” 

  This Sunday, in this season of Epiphany, we remember our baptisms. Let us bring our whole selves with our pure intentions to experience God’s blessing. 

What Star Are We Following?

starHappy New Year!

What does that expression bring up for you?

In a sense, New Year’s Day is no different than any other day.  After all, the calendar we live by is a human construction.  Yet in another way the new year always brings with it the sense of a fresh start, “another chance to get it right” as Oprah would say.  So it begs the question, why not start every day with that attitude?

The journey of the magi and the feast of the Epiphany offer an opportunity for us to consider our own journey – to gaze up to the heavens and to consider what star it is that we are following. May we be guided by the Light from above to expose the darkness that stalks our souls; and to show us the way, every step of the journey, and every day of our lives.