It’s been a great joy, during my first year in Houston, to meet each month with the heads of the faith communities around Rice University. Those faith communities include not only my congregation but also Congregation Emanu El in the Reform Judaism tradition, First Christian Church in the Disciples of Christ tradition, and Christ the King Church in the Lutheran tradition. Our people share the same neighborhood. It’s where we believe God is already at work, already present, walking beside people of faith and non-faith alike, asking all of us the same question from the Book of Genesis that was read in the liturgy at both Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church and Christ the King Lutheran Church last Sunday: “Where are you?”
In fact, I was the guest preacher on Sunday morning at Christ the King Lutheran Church and used as my sermon text the passage from the third chapter of Genesis that includes that first question from God in the Bible. Literally, I was “in church.” But it’s really a bigger question than that, of course, asking us where we are in our life and in relationship with “the giver of life,” as the Nicene Creed says.
It was wonderful, therefore, to witness the baptism of a baby in this font, after my sermon, during that same liturgy. Just like my own children, she was brought to the font as she was born — naked. There she was bathed in forgiveness and, as she was lifted out of that living water, clothed in Christ and adopted into God’s household.
As you reflect on God’s first question in the Bible, imagine not dodging it with half-truths but saying boldly — if you have also emerged from the same living water as that baby — that where you are is with God in Christ. And because you are with God in Christ, you can be honest about your own brokenness and about our collective failure to become master gardeners who tend the world that God has made and entrusted to our care. That includes humanity, too, as part of the divine creation. Imagine your faith being awakened today to care for nature, east of Eden, because the outstretched arms of the Crucified One have embraced you with love and forgiveness and acceptance, leading you, even now, back to your spiritual home.