The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Wet footprints in the chapel

About two months ago, I returned from a trip to Chicago and Mexico with a program titled “Youth in Mission, Serving Christ in the World.” This adventure, available to high-school juniors and seniors, focused on many things, including cross-cultural experience, diversity, current events, fellowship, love, life, vocation and faith. Throughout this program, I met many amazing people, learned many things, grew in an astounding number of ways, and found myself frequently challenged to grow in my faith.

Today, I found myself reflecting upon one such incident.

Just a bit of quick background that may be helpful: At the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago where we stayed and studied, the chapel has a beautiful baptismal font. It’s quite large, about 8 feet across, and semicircular in shape—a perfect size for wading. We occasionally saw people standing in the font, and we were also reassured that this was an OK thing to do. Still, none of the program participants ventured in until the last night of the program. The following reflection comes from my journal entry for that night:

“Tonight I entered the chapel for our closing worship service and found myself challenged again. Because we arrived early, one of my new friends urged me to walk in the baptismal font with him. I was reluctant at first, and I don’t know exactly why. We had been told many times by many people that it was OK. ... Why was I still unsure?

“Once I finally worked up the nerve to step in, my uncertainty vanished. The water felt cool and soothing on my feet, and I felt bathed in the love of God and the beauty of the moment.

“As I look back on it now, this really does echo our faith journeys sometimes. We are unsure of things at first, uncertain because they’re unknown or undefined or outside our comfort zones. But once we’re in, we proceed with no regrets, and we’re glad we took the chance ....

“I’m glad I pushed past my uncertainty and fear and stepped into the font. I think we, as people of faith, need to do that more often. We need to take that leap of faith, we need to be challenged, and we need to challenge ourselves too.

“As my friend and I walked in the water, other group members came and joined us. Soon, the entire group was standing in the font—smiling, splashing and remembering the joy that comes with baptism. It was truly a unique experience, ‘playing’ in the font. But as many of our mentors told us repeatedly, ‘Why shouldn’t baptism and faith be fun?’ I think we all should enjoy our faith a little more and splash around a little in the love of God.

“Even our wet footprints on the chapel floor were smiled upon—after all, shouldn’t our baptism, faith and the love of God leave wet footprints on all areas of our lives? And though the wet footprints on the floor soon dried, I think the marks on our hearts made by baptism, God, family and friends are truly there to stay.”

This week's front page features:

This week on our blog:

Andrea Pohlmann blogs about getting the word out.

Amber Leberman asks: "Why are we so angry?"

Kathleen Kastilahn (right) blogs about students in Green 101.

Julie Sevig writes about two articles in the September issue of The Lutheran.

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February issue


Embracing diversity