This past Sunday in churches all around the world, pastors and liturgists retold the story of Jesus going to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. At least from John’s perspective it should’ve gone the other way-he felt like he should’ve gone to Jesus to be baptized, instead of the Son of God asking to be baptized. Regardless, Jesus rises up out of the creek and God Almighty says ‘This is my beloved with whom I’m well pleased.’
When was the last time you heard those words: You’re beloved. I’m happy with you. I fear that we don’t hear those words often enough. I suppose that’s why whenever I have the opportunity in serving communion, I say to whoever is kneeling on the other side of the rail: You are God’s beloved!
Since Sunday I’ve heard so many people comment on how special it is for them to renew their baptismal covenant. Maybe their hearts are deeply touched because it’s one of the few times in the year they hear that God calls them beloved. In the church’s calendar, last Sunday is called Baptism of the Lord Sunday. For a lot of people this past Sunday was a time to remember one’s baptism, or at least remember that they are baptized if it happened when they were an infant. Maybe they even had an opportunity to come forward to the railing and have water poured over their hands or the sign of a cross smudged on their forehead.
But what better way to celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday than for the community to celebrate the baptism of one of its newest and youngest participants? Pastor Ken held Baby E in his arms and I stretched my hands out over the water. ‘Pour out your Holy Spirit to bless this gift of water and the one who receives it. I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit work within you that being born of water and the spirit you may become a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.’
We took an ordinary element, water, and prayed that in its use Baby E would experience the grace of God.
Do you remember your baptism? Do you remember that you’re baptized? Do you yearn for the experience of God’s grace in baptism?