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This week's eNote

october 26, 2020 by Pastor scott blevins

What’s in the Way?


As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  Acts 8:36 (NIV)


This Sunday, I was reminded of a story from my family history. My Great Grandma Mary Ann “Don” Blain, loved to tell the story of her own baptism. At every opportunity, with great enthusiasm she told how they had to break the ice on the Kanawha River near her home in the hills of West Virginia so that she could be baptized on a cold January day. For my Great Grandma nothing was going to stand in the way of her being baptized.


Garfield Memorial Church has celebrated two baptisms in the last two weeks. On the 18th we baptized Tyron Folds (an African American man), and on the 25th we baptized Eleanor Shaffer (a white infant girl). A lot stood in the way of these two being baptized in the same church.


First, it’s no small miracle that Tyron is even alive. He was shot and the bullet missed his heart by a centimeter. You can hear him tell his story here: Tyron’s Story.


Second, even though Jesus commanded his disciples to make and baptize disciples from people of all ethnicities, most churches in the United States are still racially segregated. Thus it is a tragically unusual thing for a black person and a white person to be baptized in the same church.


Third (just in case you missed it) we’re in a pandemic. Sadly, many pastors and other church people have lamented that their churches have been closed by the pandemic. How can you share the Gospel and baptize anyone if you’re closed? But we have never closed Garfield Memorial Church - not for a single day. Although our use of buildings has been limited, the church has remained open, alive, and actively pursuing our mission throughout the pandemic. 


Fourth, it was cold on Sunday as Pastor Terry placed the waters of baptism on little Eleanor outside at our drive in worship. More than one person remarked to me, with a pained expression on their face, how cold it would be for the baby - triggering my memory of Grandma Blain.


All of this reminds me of another baptism from long ago. The church was still very young, but it was growing and bringing joy to the city as it grew. There was a man who had come to Israel seeking God but a lot stood in his way. He was ethnically different from the Jewish majority, and he had been sexually altered which barred him from participating in temple worship.  But as far as God was concerned nothing was going to stand in the way of this man hearing the Good News.


God sent one of his followers, Phillip, to meet with him in the wilderness. (You can read the whole story here.) After Phillip shared the good news with him, the man saw some water along the road, and said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” The short answer was nothing: nothing was going to stand in the way of his being baptized.


This is Garfield Church’s answer too: Nothing will stand in the way of us sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, of making and baptizing disciples of all ethnicities, not a pandemic, not face coverings, not cold weather, not racism, not election-stress, not fear. Nothing. It’s why we are here: to widen the circle of Christ’s love, to connect diverse people who share a common brokenness with Jesus. Nothing can stand in the way of that.


Take Courage,