With eagerness she sat with hands upturned, smile on her face, waiting to see what God would fill her with in the immediate moment. B. grew up in a Catholic home and had a deep sense of intimacy and relationship with the Holy Spirit. She welcomed his presence in her life and the good things that he had for her. Having recently started coming to our church she watched as her husband and sister-in-law begin to learn more and grow in faith through the Alpha course. At the point of her desire to have something just for her, we advertised the Lenten small group. Her joy filled the house where we met. Her desire to know more and experience more of the God of her faith was inspiring.
As a group we waded through the deep waters of challenge that Mark’s gospel sent our way. It began with throwing off everything that could weigh us down and prevent us from truly living and seeing God’s kingdom come in our lives and in our communities. We were challenged to let these words really take root in our lives – not just sit there as theoretical concepts. We were comforted by Jesus’ response to the tenacity of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. We were in awe of Jesus’ ability to calm the storm with a couple of words. The moment that stands out for me was when Jesus spoke about binding up the strong man and plundering his house (speaking not of people but of the enemy of our souls). The richness of the daily readings made Lent seem like a very long time this year but we were in it for the long haul.
As Easter approached there was an invitation given to the church for people to be baptised. In Ireland most people are baptised as an infant into either the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland. Confirmation of faith comes around like a ritual and rite of passage from primary school into secondary. These are the natural and culturally accepted faith practices. Being baptised at any other time is a public declaration: I chose Jesus. I need a Saviour and I chose him.
On Easter Sunday the church gathered around our small circular pool in the centre of the building. People gathered around the balcony to get a better view. B., her husband and her sister-in-law each stepped into the water that day, honouring their parents for the choice they had made for them before they could speak for themselves, and publicly announcing that faith in Jesus for salvation and life was how they chose to live.
Faith in God is more than just spiritual connection – it is walking daily with him, accepting his grace over and over again – this forgiveness and freedom from guilt and shame that we so desperately long for. It is allowing our lives and our decisions to be shaped by a truth outside of ourselves. This is where we see glimmers of what life was intended to be.
Every path He guides us on is fragrant with His loving kindness. ~ Psalm 25:10