This is “Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.” This New Year of 2017 is still new enough that many are working on new beginnings for our lives. Perhaps that’s why the observance of Jesus’ baptism comes at the beginning of each new year … to encourage us to remember our own baptism and recommit to living out our baptism vows.
I grew up in a church tradition that confused baptism with being a one-time saving moment in which a person being baptized accepts the love and forgiveness of God. While that person may grow in their faith through the years, nothing experienced after Baptism will be as important as that saving moment of baptism. However, in studying the scriptures over the years I have come to look at baptism more broadly. Baptism indeed affirms a time of helping people experience God’s love and forgiveness; but we should also recognize baptism as a time of change. The approach I learned growing up isolates baptism as the most important moment in a faith journey; but I have come to understand that baptism is more of a beginning.
While it’s true that in the waters of baptism, we acknowledge and trust that God has laid claim on our lives; it is also true that we spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out what that means. Baptism too frequently has carried the notion that we have arrived. The danger in that thinking is what happens when we in our humanness fall short of living up to the fullest of how God’s love and forgiveness should be reflected in our lives. When we make mistakes and fall short of that as we all will, we begin to question our “salvation.” Have we still arrived? That’s why should never overlook salvation also as a journey which follows baptism.
Baptism is not a sign that we have found all the answers. Baptism is a beginning. It is the desire to see the world differently, to see each other differently, and even to see ourselves differently and to live lives reflecting that difference. At the beginning of each year on “Baptism of Our Lord Sunday”, we are invited to reaffirm our baptismal vows & commit anew to the journey of walking in the two greatest commandments throughout the year of living lives “loving God and loving and serving others.”
Join us at Covenant this “Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.” We’ll offer the opportunity to be initially baptized or renew your baptismal vows through immersion or sprinkling. My sermon is “Baptism: A New Beginning” based on “Acts 10:34-38 & 43” and “Matthew 3:13-17.”