Not that Kind of Baptist

“A Blessing For Those in Exile”

          Greetings to each of you!  Jenney and I keep saying to each other “these are such strange days.”  Strange doesn’t quite capture it, but it’s close.  “Exile” is another word I’ve used often.  Because we are in exile from so many things.  We are in exile from our wonderful worship spaces and more importantly: we are in exile from each other. 

          Thank goodness for that pictorial directory that I can look at and remind myself what folk look like!  If you need a copy, let us know.  Will Mathews can get it in the mail to you. 

          Well, I think we are in need of a blessing, don’t you? 

          I’ve enjoyed reading the blessing that Jesus gives in the Gospel of John.  In the twentieth chapter, a great deal of dramatic events in the life of Jesus and the early church occur.  Jesus is raised from the dead and he appears to a group of disciples that very evening.  The disciple named Thomas missed out on that first meeting.  So he shows up at the same house a week later, on the “Lord’s Day” which we call Sunday. 

          Yes, Thomas shows up…and so does Jesus!  Thomas was the one who wouldn’t believe unless he could “see” and “touch.”  He was a very tangible oriented skeptic.  When Jesus shows up, however, all of Thomas’ big sounding objections fade away.  He is left with the highest of faith claims: My Lord and My God!

          And here is where the blessing comes.  Jesus says, ““Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:29). 

          Now, who is that blessing for?  I asked that of the Wednesday morning Bible study group that meets on Zoom.  Theresai Manley said, “it’s for us.”  She was right.  It is for us.  And for every human being who has never seen the physical body of Jesus.  Most of us are not so fortunate to get our own “burning bush” moment: an encounter with the physical Easter Jesus.  But all of us are invited into Jesus’ blessing. 

          That word in Greek means “deeply happy, deeply fortunate.”  Blessed.  I find it the perfect blessing for our time in exile from each other and our worship spaces.  We cannot see each other or touch one another.  We are like Thomas, hungry for the tangible.  And yet, in this time of bodiless existence, we are invited to nonetheless believe.  May you partake of the blessing.  Know of the joy I’ll have when we see one another face to face soon.

Posted by Rev. Daniel Headrick with


             Isn’t it is a sin to let things lie fallow?  Look it up in the Bible, somewhere in Leviticus.  After all, who wants to feel useless, ineffective, or idle?  Remember,  “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” 
            To be fallow, is to just sit there. Unused.  Unproductive.  Practically,  unamerican!   
            However, according to The Good Book, not only are we to allow it, we are to ensure it.   Fallow needs to happen.  Several scriptures say that the land should have a sabbath every seventh year.     Don’t make it do something, let it rest from doing something.  Plus, every fifty years, the soil gets an additional year, to repose and decompose; and maybe to heal. 
          Fallow time is necessary in human life, too.  Recovery from a surgery.  Recuperation from an illness.  Mending after breaking.   Preparation for a new adventure.    
           God took a sabbath after a week’s work.  It’s a commandment.  How difficult is that?  For me, very difficult.     
Today, one-third of the world has suddenly stopped for a fallow time.  We are to “shelter in place.”  And we hate it.
We dislike admitting that our frantic lives, our pragmatizing of wildlands, and the intensity of time and proximity, all make for a cultural hotbed for a coronavirus.    
           So, to fight back, we must chill-out.  ‘Tis a long fallow time we are in.  And, it is Lent.
           I, for one, am fallow-conflicted.  There are some things which must be done.  But, which things?  Some things should be  laid aside. What are they?
           At risk of betraying everything I’ve just said about faithful fallowness, I want to highlight some of the essential things I see NDBC and our staff doing (and not doing).
      We gather distantly and intimately for worship.  We try; but the technology, the software, the hardware, the overloaded internet, and the deadline to pull our best efforts together…are killers.  I’ve been worried that all the above may steal our Associate Pastor’s soul  (The Devil and Daniel Headrick).  It’s not that many, many of you haven’t offered good and frequent suggestions.  Thank you for trying to help.  Though simple looking, there’s a lot to cobble.  The miracle is that the soul of worship…humility, honesty, and yearning for wholeness in the presence of holiness…has remained.  My thanks to Keith and Melinda for beautiful music. Whew.
       We tend to the building.  Our sacred and educational space has a special place in NDBC’s heart.  Every day, Rose or Daniel or I do a walk-through…mainly looking for leaks.  If you need to come into the building, contact one of us. 
       We plan.  The staff has a lively Zoom meeting every Tuesday morning.  Also, Daniel and I have a conference call with our moderator, Don Janney, every Friday. 
       We love our children.  Mary Lou is planning children’s music, because All God’s Creatures Got a Place in the Choir.  Andrea Johnson is a tsunami of creativity.  It would blow up your computer if I linked all the good spiritual activities she’s sent to NDBC parents—from sidewalk chalk talks, to do-it-yourself Palm Sunday Parades, to roll-your-own Easter Egg hunts.
       We pray and study.  Daniel hosts a Saturday afternoon video prayer meeting; plus, there’s a Wednesday 10:30 a.m. Bible study where folk can Zoom in. 
       We listen.  Will Matthews, our Administrative Manager, checks the church’s general voicemail twice daily; and each staff member calls into his or her personal voicemail.  Plus, you can reach us directly with our phone numbers in the church directory. 
       We share.  Daniel and I will send weekly, two all-church Pastoral Perspectives.  Mine goes out Monday or Tuesday; Daniel writes for Friday or Saturday. 
       We give.  We stay at it…through electronic checking, through the website, and through postal mail.  Giving is a response.  It is what we do as a worshiping congregation. 
       We care.  I’m hearing many acts of kindness…like Myrtie Cope’s handcrafted healthcare masks, while the deacons serve as frontline caregivers.  However, due to the quarantine, the deacons can’t visit; but they are calling and connecting.  Also, if need be, you take the initiative and call them.  Beth Laxton is the chair; and I appreciate her leadership. 
       Holy Week will happen.  No, not like it has; but watch for instructions on Maundy Thursday’s quiet nighttime echoes, Good Friday’s hollow holiness with seven homilists and the Seven Last Words, plus Easter Sunday’s unbelievable news of Jesus’ empty tomb.  And one more thing….
       We take God seriously, not ourselves.  This goes back to the fallow notion and faithful, but faltering worship.  Too easily, we define ourselves by the things we do and how well we do them.  But the big news of Easter eclipses all our efforts to roll away the stone better than anybody else.  Easter is THE theological reminder to take God seriously, not ourselves.  Easter is what God does.  Our job is to stand by, with jaws dropped, and hearts fallow.  Hallelujah?  Hallelujah!   


Posted by Rev. James Lamkin with
in Lent

Five Practices for this Uncertain Journey

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Friends, we have entered uncharted territory. Many may have no map for the way ahead. Many may be anxious. I’ve been there all week, and have called upon God for help in this time.

It would seem that 2020 is on hold, if not altogether canceled. Christ have mercy.

After some prayerful reflection, I offer these principles to live by in this wilderness time, and I invite you to add your own thoughts and prayers below. These are five “practices” to live by in this uncertain time:

1. Practice grace. Do so with yourself and your neighbor. We are frail vessels for transporting grace, so we need to call upon God for help. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Stress will bring out anxious behavior and language. You do not have to match the intensity the other brings. A good example is when I call a relative or friend and catastrophize, if they remain calm and don’t join in my “sky is falling” approach, I emerge calmer. Try to be that “calm” person once or twice today and see how it goes. Others may not share your assessment of this crisis. That is normal. You are not responsible for their perspective. You are responsible for how you communicate.

2. Practice resurrection. Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. How quickly we have forgotten these words from Ash Wednesday. Our mortality is assured, but so too is our resurrection. So we will live with the sure hope that Easter will redeem all plagues. To practice resurrection means that even though we occasionally despair, we are always looking for hope through the grace and mercy of God. What are the signs of resurrection you can see today, if you really open your eyes?

3. Practice prayer. Our source of living hope is God, and a time of crisis and uncertainty is an invitation to deepen that relationship through prayer. Ask yourself how much time you have spent consuming news about Covid-19 vs. time in relationship with God today? Talk to God about what that is about for you. Apparently prayer was so hard to do that Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to do it. Prayer is an acknowledgment that we can’t do this on our own, and that we rely on God for strength and hope.

4. Practice service. Think of how God might be calling you to service in this interim time. Are there people living paycheck to paycheck in your life? Reach out to them and see how you can serve. Are there seniors with underlying conditions like diabetes, heart or lung conditions who are afraid to go out for groceries or medicine? Check in with them to see if you can serve. We are going to need each other to get through this, with the grace and mercy of God. Many will feel lonely and make those extra phone calls to those who are in special need of a human touch.

5. Practice wisdom. The CDC tells us that senior adults and those with underlying chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are “at a higher risk of getting very sick from this illness.” They counsel staying home as much as possible. If you are in this category, do not hesitate to reach out to your family, friends, and clergy to tell them how you are feeling and ask for help. If you are a young and healthy person who is asymptomatic, you may be a carrier of Covid-19 and you have a moral obligation to be wise in your contact with others.…/specific…/high-risk-complications.html

Know of my prayers for you and for the world.

May healing come. Amen.
-Daniel Headrick, Associate Pastor

Posted by Rev. Daniel Headrick with

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