imageI remembered Saturday night that I had signed myself up for Sunday’s Children’s moment. And I remembered the snowman. Well, that’s what it had been.

It was one of those towels that get pressed into a shape and then when immersed in water again become a towel. I had been carrying this snowman around for literally years. It had come to me somehow at some Christmas and it had made its way from box to bag to car and back to my cloth briefcase. Long ago the design had rubbed off. I had seen it multiple times and had thought, “Someday that might be a great children’s moment.”

Okay, I decided, this was the day.

The problem was there was no way to do a dry run on it. It was a one shot deal.

The kids came forward, just four on this holiday weekend, and I asked them what they thought this snowman-shaped-compressed object was in my hand.

Right off, Dylan knew, “That’s one of those towels that is pressed into a shape and then becomes a towel again.”

“Oh, so you don’t use it just like this?” I played, rubbing it across his face.

“Oh no,” said Aurelia, who also had had basics in soaking objects that become towels, “you need to soak it in water.

“Well, I just happen to have some here,” I told them.

The Capitol Hill UMC had closed and we have been beneficiaries to multiple pieces of furniture and even doors for our new building. So, in front yesterday I found their former and our new baptismal font.

We went to the baptismal font and I put the snowman into the water and it just sat there, this lump of towel, compressed into its long-heated-in-car-and-bag-over-the-years snowman shape. No change happening.

“How long does this usually take?” I asked.

Isaac touched the water, “Oh,” he said, wisely, “it helps if the water is warm.”

“I should have taken lessons from you all before we tried this,” I said.

Aurelia plunged both hands into the water and began to pull with all her might on the little corner that had appeared, but no change occurred.

“Well, it looks like we are going to need to let this soak during worship,” I said.

“Aurelia will you be in charge of checking on it occasionally to see if it has finished becoming a towel?” She was totally into that.

Then, we talked about the baptismal font coming from another congregation that had closed and how baptism is the action of the church demonstrating the change that happens in us, like this object changed into a towel, we change to becoming more like Jesus as children of God. And another thing that brings change is prayer – prayer changes us and the people and situations we are praying for.

So, still awaiting the towel, I had them put their hands on the font to pray for it, to bring it into our congregational life. We bowed to pray, and immediately images came to mind, the faces of countless people, infants, children, adults who had been baptized into Christ with water at that font. It was overwhelming for a moment.

This was no perfunctory thing. This was Living Word, the action of the church to welcome, to set apart, to immerse, to name people as connected to, belonging to Jesus. It was this immense moment for gratitude for this other congregation’s years of ministry, and this anticipation for what blessed overflow was yet to come. My prayer was heartfelt and spirit prompted as the kids and I had hands on that wooden structure around which so many others had gathered.

Then I had them take water in their little hands and fling it over the congregation and tell them “Remember your baptisms and be thankful.”

As the snowman actually did become a towel again, I was reminded that it sometimes takes a long time of soaking in the Person, presence, reality of Jesus to allow change to really take hold. My life has long been on the pathway to that very change from bound up, compressed, limited, small, to expansive, free, and useful. I’m still walking. Buen Camino.


About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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1 Response to Snowman

  1. David Luce says:

    Hi, Brian

    Your latest Camino bulletin brought this verse to mind:

    “Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

    I think that fits.

    Hope you all had a great Independence Day.

    Lots of love,


    Matthew 13:52


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