An Invitation for Renewal

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A Guest Post by: James McLemore. 

{What a gift to receive a note from a new friend of About Proximity all the way from Alabama. James has a sweet and powerful reflection to share with us. I’m so thankful he took the time to offer it to us, it spoke to my heart.} 


Fifteen years teaching the 6th grade church confirmation class has made me weary. My own three sons passed through here long ago and are now grown. Is there anyone to take this baton? I gave the rector of our Episcopal parish a year’s notice – this would be my final term.


On kick-off Sunday, a record number of students appeared in our room. Expecting chaos, I found, instead, a community of engaged and intellectually curious children. Their large number generated a sustained energy which they seemed to surf.

I addressed them as usual. We would journey to their infant baptism where their parents had vouched for their commitment to our Lord. We would revisit those vows and claim them for their own. We would renew baptism.

Their faces reflected excitement which I was unused to. “We’re going to be baptized again?” The “we” part of their question included me. Why not, I thought. Renewal for everyone.

The beginning of everything involved water, so says Genesis. So does baptism, and so will our renewal.


In May of this year I made a quick personal trip to Holland, Michigan. It is a distant and different land from my home in the Deep South. Before rushing back, I rose early to visit the shore of Lake Michigan. The enormous lake was at rest, the sky cloudless and the sun brilliant. All seemed to have paused, inviting me into its natural, original – maybe primitive – state. Were the waters of the Jordan as welcoming at Jesus’ baptism?

I stood still for the longest time, gazing at water too big to see. We become our memories and I wanted this one to be in front.  My mind cleared and I wanted to stay much longer. But nothing waits forever and I had to get on the road and into traffic. Even the lake would be a tempest by mid afternoon.

As my class invited me to join them on their journey of renewal, they reminded me of Lake Michigan. Here was their invitation to return to water, to be refreshed and renewed. It promises to wash away weariness and join us all in the exciting embrace of the holy. We cannot do this alone, and for me, children show the way.


My notice to the rector is on hold.


McLemore-James-H_-2012-308x463I am a sixth-generation resident of Montgomery, Alabama and my wife Laura and I have three sons. I am an attorney in private practice. I am a lifelong member of St John’s Episcopal Church and teach the youth confirmation class here, in addition to many other roles in the church.

6 thoughts on “An Invitation for Renewal

  1. Pingback: I love Your Voice Series: James McLemore | About Proximity

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