Bethel Baptist Church
Sechelt BC Canada
April 18th, 2012
April 18th, 2012

Healthy Transitions

I have a personal blog site that I set up for the primary purpose of reflecting on my Lent walks each year.  But every now and then I get an impulse to write, and so that´s what I did.  As I stare down at a registration form for our upcoming denomination´s Assembly I am reminded of the post I wrote today because the theme of Assembly is "Healthy Transitions."  My blog post fits right in to that theme and I thought I´d share it with the good folks here on Bethel´s website.


Kick the bucket.  Drop in the bucket.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Pass the buck.  Pass the baton.  We use a lot of idioms in the English language.  It´s no wonder an old friend of mine, while tutoring a Korean student in English many year ago, confessed to having a lot of difficulty.  After all you can only answer the question, "why" in reference to English rules of grammar with the word "because" so often before it becomes frustrating to both student and tutor.  I know English isn´t the only language to use idioms, but it´s the only language I speak, therefore, it´s the only one I will comment on for now.  Why comment on the use of idioms?  Because there is one that is really important in this life: the phrase "pass the baton" is one that has been impressed upon my heart a lot lately.  There are probably many reasons for this: one being an upcoming retreat I´ll be attending in July that has as its theme, Healthy Transitions.  A keynote address of the speaker will focus on the idea of passing the baton. The other reason I think it´s on my heart lately is based on some Scripture I´ve been reading lately that either express the sentiment or give good example of what happens when the baton isn´t passed.

Psalm 145:4 tells us that "one generation will commend your (God´s) work to another."  That´s baton passing of a kind.  It´s essential in life, both secular and sacred, to properly pass the baton.  When it comes to faith, it´s essential to commend the works of God to the  next generation.  How else will they come to know who God is and what He has done for them?  When you don´t pass the baton, disaster often happens.  It´s like the other expression that gets touted  frequently that says, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" or something similar as one of the many variations will state.  The point is, when we don´t pass the baton properly (eg. give the responsibility to someone else) generations to come will likely fall into the dangerous pattern of repeating the same mistakes, often falling into some kind of calamity.

In Exodus 1 we´re given a negative example, where we´re told about Joseph (you know; that guy with the amazing technicolor dream coat?) and his family coming to Egypt.  In the previous book (Genesis) Joseph saved many people, including both his family and the Egyptians.  After interpreting Pharaoh´s dream he was put in charge of the storehouses of Egypt to stockpile food because a famine was coming.  After all was said and done, the people had food, and all Egypt benefitted.  You´d think they would remember that.  Flash-forward a couple of centuries and you read in Exodus 1:8-11 that a new king came to power that did not know Joseph and he dealt ruthlessly with Joseph´s people, the Hebrews.  What happened there?  My guess is that the baton was not passed properly.  And it led to disaster.  Not for the Israelites, although they were oppressed, but ultimately for the Egyptians who lost their slave labor, AND all their best gold and silver and clothing - they were plundered!  Do you see what happens when we don´t pass the baton?

The year was 1983.  I was running the second leg of my high school team´s 4x200 relay at  a track meet.  To be honest, I was never a good sprinter.  I was more a middle distance runner, so I was already feeling out of my element.  And that´s when it happened.  Disaster.  As I approached the zone in which you can pass the baton legally (according to the rules of the race) my legs got all rubbery and I grew really tired and my teammate took off too fast.  I couldn´t reach him.  In a last-ditched attempt I stretched as far as I could and the toe of my shoe caught the track awkwardly and I began to fall.  Still trying to make the pass and seeing we had run out of room I tried to gently toss it as I fell.  He dropped it and we were disqualified from the race.  I´m sure there were many that blamed me for the gaffe.  I tried to pass the buck: "he took off too early."  "I tripped - accidents happen." "It wasn´t my fault."  Reality is, I was to blame.  Instead of passing the baton I ended up trying to pass the buck.

I think it´s fairly easy for us as human beings to pass the buck.  Now that I´m a little older (I seem to have recently vaulted into a different age category option on those surveys you fill out that lumps me with people I think are old!) I recognize the great temptation to look at younger generations and wag the proverbial finger or utter that contemptible ´tsk-tsk´ noise that makes me somehow feel a little more superior (at least in my own mind) when I should actually be doing something more positive about it than playing the blame game.  I should be passing the baton, not passing the buck.  There are generations younger than me that need me to commend God´s works to them - to pass on the mantle of leadership, even, with the right amount of knowledge and guidance so they can continue the work of God in this world.  Passing the buck ("it´s your fault, not mine!") is so much easier.  But passing the baton is what we really should be doing.

So... are you passing the baton?  Or passing the buck?

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