Today is my baptismal birthday. It’s also St. Matthew’s feast day. I love it that I share the day I was born again with a tax collector who was, at Jesus’ call, turned into a disciple.

I mean, isn’t that all of us? Not, I left my mess behind and now I’ve arrived, but instead,¬†Dear Lord, I’m still such a mess… but you have still invited me to follow you. And so I go. Thanks for loving me.

Or, as one of my favorite seminary professors put it as he opened class each year, “Hi, I’m Tony, a sinner… washed in the blood of the Lamb.”

I was a weak, premature baby. It’s amazing I even made it to my baptism day, even as an infant. But God is near to the weak and the suffering. God delights in the premature. (It was probably my first experience of God’s timing not being my timing.)

My name means “Gift of God.” I suppose that could lead toward arrogance (It would have been a great line when I was dating in high school, right?), but for me it’s all grace: that all of who I am comes as a sheer gift of God.