I love languages. I am not good at speaking other languages but I like to try. I can say hello, goodbye, thank you, and "Can you speak English?" in several other languages. That comes in handy when one travels overseas.
Last summer, my wife and I spent a month in Nova Scotia when I was on sabbatical. Nova Scotia, and all of Canada, is bilingual with French and English being displayed on traffic signs, billboards, and products one buys in the supermarket. I enjoyed trying to figure out what the French side said on products before turning it over to see the English translation. It was amazing what one would find on a familiar box or can we have back home.
We have been eating Quaker Oat Squares cereal for years now. I really like them and think they are pretty healthy too. When we were in Nova Scotia, we could buy Quaker Oat Square there also. I cannot recall what the cereal's name is in French but on the back of the box was this French phrase--"Votre voyage commence ici". That phrase has enough English similarities that it was easy enough to know it referred to a trip someone would take and the trip was about to begin and I had picked up through previous travel that "ici" means "here" in English. So, I finally learned the phrase said, "Your journey begins here." The folks who make Quaker Oat Squares want you to think that eating their product daily helps your day to go well. I liked that box with French on it so well that it is one of my souvenirs from our trip. We still have the empty box in the cabinet for me to look at now and then.
The phrase launched me into a religious/theological mode also, besides telling me that I get a good start to my day by eating that cereal. It made me think about baptism and the Christian life. I wondered if we should put a sign with that phrase over my baptismal font---"Your Journey Begins Here." At the baptismal waters, the Christian journey begins. We all go through the waters of baptism in order to begin walking the path of the Christian life that will last a lifetime. The water gets us wet for only a few seconds but its stain stays with us always. Even when we cannot see it, the water continues to drip down our faces as it anoints us for daily living.
I am one of those ecumenical Christians who thinks that what they do in other churches is okay for me to participate in so every time I go to the Catholic Church or to an Episcopal Church where there is Holy Water by the door, I dip my finger in it and apply the water to my forehead. Just as the person on the V-8 commercial slaps his or her head as a reminder to drink that nutritious drink, I gently slap my forehead to say to myself, "Oh yeah, I am a Christian!" That, Protestant friends, is the real meaning of the Holy Water. Besides being a refreshing feeling on a hot summer day as one enters the coolness of a sanctuary, it serves as a constant reminder that the waters of baptism stay with us throughout our lives. We are marked with a cross on our foreheads and we wear the name "Christian" in addition to our given names. We belong to a family who all share that name in common.
So, brothers and sisters, your journey began at the font and now you are on the road to your future, whatever that may be. You are walking the road daily but you do not walk it alone. Jesus is there, as he was with his disciples on the mountain before he left them to go away, and he told them, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b) We may walk the road and feel alone but we are never truly alone because Jesus will always be there to hold our hands and converse with us about what we are experiencing on the journey. We can always tell him whatever we want because he is a good listener and he always cares about what we have to share with him.
Votre voyage commence ici---Your journey begins here!
Drop by now and then and dip your finger in the font....cool your brow and renew your acquaintance with others on the road with you. Jesus will always be here because he will be wherever you are as you travel.