The effectiveness of a vision statement for any organization such as Covenant is to make it easy to remember and effortless to say. Covenant’s vision statement is “To be an inclusive community of faith + Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.” I’ve said it so many times that I can do it without any thought. Perhaps that’s the problem. Many of us can say it so effortless that we no longer engage it’s meaning for our church or our individual lives. That requires us to think about the vision with intentionality and from time to time recommitment to its purpose.
With that in mind, I’m currently preaching a sermon series addressing the three points of our vision statement. Last week I talked about “2015” as “A New Year of Offering Hope.” This week, since it is “Baptism of Our Lord Sunday,” I will be talking about baptism as a means of “Cleaning House and Showing Faithfulness.”
I still remember my own baptism as an encounter with God at the age of 11 that changed my life. I wish I could say that I have always been faithful to my baptismal vows, but in honesty, I must confess I haven’t. But that experience at age 11 has reminded me, at critical moments of decision in my life, of who and whose I am. It has often reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me. So “showing faithfulness” to God was very much in my thoughts when I made the decision to leave a very lucrative career with the federal government because Covenant invited me to be your pastor. Making that decision was not easy; but as I said, it was my effort in “showing faithfulness” to God and the baptismal promises I had made to God as an 11 year of child. That moment of decision taught me that “showing faithfulness” is more than a neat cliché. It’s a continual act of following God’s leading, especially when it’s not convenient.
Andrew Young, was a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King. He is also an ordained UCC minister. He tells how his “self-identity” is anchored in the notion of being a follower of Christ and in Christian service even as he served as mayor of Atlanta, U. S. Congressman and U S Ambassador of the United Nations. He tells of his joy and pleasure when his eldest daughter was baptized in the faith and became active in their local UCC church. With each deepening level of her involvement he became more and more proud. But one day she announced that she was going to join the ministry of Habitat for Humanity to build homes for the poor of Uganda. This was not too many years after the fall of Idi Amin, and Uganda was still a very violent country. Andrew Young confessed, “I tried to talk her out of it. I mean, I wanted her to go to church, to find a nice Christian man to marry, to develop a relationship with God and settle down. But, believe me, I didn’t have anything like this in mind. I didn’t intend for her to go so far with it. I mean–Uganda! But she said she felt called. What could I say?”
Andrew Young’s eldest daughter treated “Showing Faithfulness” with the seriousness it should be. How about you? How about Covenant? Do we treat “Showing Faithfulness” with the seriousness it should be or is it just a cute phrase?
Join us in worship for a special “Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.” I will be preaching on the second part of Covenant’s vision statement in a sermon called “Cleaning House and Showing Faithfulness.” The scripture text is Mark 1:4-11.
NOTE: This Sunday we will offer Baptism by Sprinkling and Immersion. If you want to be baptized by immersion, please bring a set of clothes to change into.