Birthmarks

A sermon based on 1 Peter 1:3-10 and John 20:19-29 preached on April 23rd, 2017

Sermon audio

It’s Easter evening. The disciples are huddled together in a room too small for them. They’re sweating because the air is stagnant. They’re fearful for lack of courage or purpose. Three days ago, their courage and purpose had been crucified on a cross just outside Jerusalem. His name was Jesus.

Yes, there were rumors about. Earlier that morning, the two Marys had run back to the locked room they were huddled in. Out of breath from running, but also from whatever it is that happens to us when fear mixes with joy, they told the disciples that Jesus was alive. Walking, talking, breathing. Having conversations with them. But, for those first disciples, rumors and stories, conjecture and hearsay were good for nothing. How can anyone believe that Jesus is alive without first having seen Him? That’s the deep Easter question we have, isn’t it, friends?

Sometimes faith is easy. There are moments, perhaps many of them, when believing in that which we have not seen with our own two eyes comes effortlessly. But there are also moments when our faith lacks the strength to carry us very far—out of our own locked rooms.

There they were—Jesus’ disciples, who knows how many of them—certainly more than 11—hiding behind locked doors, whispering to each other out of fear of being discovered, certain that if they made too much noise or emerged out of the cubbyhole of a room they were in, they’d end up on a cross just like their Master had.

It’s a wonder that the Jesus movement was birthed at all. For their faith to take on life, those first disciples had to emerge from the grave of that small, locked room. In a sense, they had already buried themselves inside those 4 walls. They had barred the door shut—it was locked from the inside—that door was like a tombstone they had rolled in front of their own grave. All indications would lead us to think that they were calling it quits.

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Whenever we read this passage in worship or in Sunday School class, or a bible study, the word doubt inevitably becomes a part of our conversation.

But there’s something much more sinister at play here. Doubt we can handle. We can live with doubt. In fact, it’s hard for us not to. But hope. Hope is something that none of us can survive without. If all we see wherever we look are walls, barriers, locked doors that keep us in, that hold us prisoner—especially when those doors are locked from the inside—then we’ve given up hope. And what else is there if we do not have hope?

Whenever fear takes up more space in our lives than hope, death wins. Life grows smaller. The walls around us get thicker, they move in closer. And there we are, cramped with fear. As good as dead. We all know what it’s like to be stuck in place; it feels like dying—or at least a sort of smaller death.

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It is right in the middle of this cramped space, this room filled with fear and death and hopelessness, that we hear a voice we recognize:

Peace be with you!

Jesus says. Heads turn. Mouths fall open. The women were right! Jesus is standing among them. He speaks real words from His real mouth. Looking at the disciples through His real eyes. There He is standing among them in the middle of that cubbyhole of a room. And whether it actually happened or it just felt like it, the walls of that room retreated. The space inside grew bigger, fuller. And suddenly, the disciples could breathe again. In that tiny space, life quickly replaced death.

Peace be with you!

And after saying those words, Jesus breathed on them, inflating their lungs again, reviving their hopelessness, giving new energy—God-energy to their bodies worn down and failing, bringing new birth to their dying spirits. In that moment, everything seemed to expand. Walls. Eyes. Lungs.

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Let’s dive a little deeper.

Did you ever notice how many times Jesus’ hands and side are mentioned in this passage? Three. Three times in 11 short verses. This should get our attention.

The first and last time, it’s Jesus who brings up these scars of His. The second time Jesus’ scars are mentioned, it’s Thomas who brushes aside the witness of his fellow disciples. They have told him that they had seen the Lord, and in his stubbornness, the first thing that Thomas brings up is that he needs to see those scars—the nail marks in Jesus’ hands, the lash marks in his side. That’s a curious thing! Have we ever thought about that? What’s so important about Jesus’ marks—these scars He had—that they’re the first thing Thomas says he needs to see, the first thing Jesus shows to His disciples, and the first thing that Jesus shows to Thomas a week later?

There seems to be no question about it: Jesus’ disciples were waiting to see the marks. It’s the most important detail of Jesus’ identity now—that His body now has scars. If we ever had the notion that the body of the resurrected Jesus would be blemish-free—glowing in radiance, white with light, healed by God, then we are assuming too much. In fact, we’d be assuming the opposite of what those first disciples assumed. The resurrected Jesus—the One high and lifted up—the One who is with us now in the power of the Holy Spirit—is perfect, but even in His perfection, He has scars. And these scars aren’t just something left over from His life on earth; these marks He has make Him our Lord and our God.

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Our bodies bear witness to the brutalities of this all-too-human life of ours. They’re marked up all over. Our skin tells our stories for us. Our bodies are our best diaries. Written upon them is every bit of our past. Over the landscape of our own bodies we encounter the countless moments of our lives. Our bodies are living signposts marking where we have been and what we have accomplished. They remember where we have stumbled, but they insist on getting back up onto our feet to try again—which in a way is its own tiny resurrection, or if that’s too much, it’s at least resilience, our hope becoming stronger than our fear. Our bodies are living testaments to the God-filled conviction that says: no matter what this world throws at us, we have within us completely resilient spirits. Our marks—physical, spiritual, emotional—do not make us less than human; they are the very things that show forth God’s power to bring us to new birth.

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Friends, we belong to a Wounded Healer. Jesus’ scars—the ones in His hands and sides—are not incidental. They are the story He has to tell. They are God’s story.

Jesus isn’t our Lord without those wounds. What He endured for us on the cross shall not be erased. We do not forget his crucifixion, because without Good Friday, there is no Easter. Without the marks, we would not be here. Without the holes in His hands and sides, we would not be whole. The Church was birthed by those marks on Jesus’ resurrected body. And without them, the Church would have died before it ever came to life.

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Do you know what this means, friends? It means that our faith is birthed from Jesus’ marks. So, the only way to be Church—to live our lives authentically and in witness to the crucified and resurrected Christ—is to bear our marks. To go out from this place, and into all our places, and show the wounds in our hands and sides. By so doing, we show others that Jesus’ church is far from being a group of people who celebrate their own perfection or holiness. Instead, we are people who are willing to roll up our sleeves and show others the side of ourselves that’s filled with wounds—wounds of body, heart, spirit, and soul. They will know we are Christians by our marks. Our marks make us fully alive! God-alive, Jesus-alive, Easter-alive!

And if we do that—if we are willing to be as vulnerable as Jesus was when He entered into that room appearing to his people, wounds and all, then we will bring light to darkened hearts, hope to fear-filled souls, life to people living their lives half-dead, and maybe, hopefully, lead them to recognize Jesus in much the same way that Thomas did that evening.

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Thomas’ eyes were opened when he saw Jesus. And from his mouth came the most profound statement of faith that we have in any of the gospels:

My Lord and my God!

he said.

The Church was given birth that night with those words from Thomas. It is with that declaration of faith along with the breath that Jesus breathed into those disciples—both, bringing them to life—that the Church still has its life.

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Friends, we still have limited vision and blinding doubts. We’re often crippled by the same kind of fear that those first disciples had, and that fear causes us to do the same thing it did to them: to keep all held up inside, to keep our faith hidden by these four walls, to hesitate to take the Good News of Jesus-alive out with us—to share it and wear it. To live our days, hours, minutes in witness to our resurrected Lord. It is into our anxiety—that thing that tells us over and over again that our faith is a private thing—that Jesus speaks those same words He did to those first disciples:

Peace be with you.

Jesus says it over and over again. Three times in this passage, and many more times to us. And he’ll continue speaking peace to us until we finally understand what He’s trying to tell us. Christ’s peace is a whole lot more than something that calms our fears. This is Shalom. This is a peace that empowers us and drags us into maturity, wholeness, completeness. Jesus breathes this peace into us. With His breath, Jesus gives us life—He births the Church in the same way God brought creation to life when His Spirit swept over the waters and stirred the cosmos to life.

With this Shalom, we catch our breath and are made into new beings. This is the breath that marks us for second birth. And once we catch Jesus’ breath, once we’re birthed by the Holy Spirit—given our vitality and our mission—we go out from this place and bear witness to our Lord by bearing His marks in all we say, and in all we do.

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Footprints of a Mighty God

A sermon based on Psalm 89:1-8 and Colossians 1:15-29

Sermon audio

From 1495 to 1498, Leonardo Da Vinci was a single-minded artist. It was during those three years that the crowning achievement of his entire career began taking shape. The painting was The Last Supper. It measured an enormous 15 feet by 29 feet. It’s an oil on canvas masterpiece that today covers a wall in the dining hall of a monastery in Milan, Italy.

Throughout those 3 years, Da Vinci would change the smallest little details of The Last Supper, caking layer upon layer of paint until it was just right—until he felt it was something worthy of his legacy. And throughout these changes, both small and large, he would invite in his friends—artists whose opinions and eye for the artistic he respected the most. One of these friends went on and on about how extravagant the painting was. This friend said his favorite part of the painting was the chalice Da Vinci had painted in Jesus’ hand. This chalice captivated his friend. He called it “especially beautiful.”

After his friend left, Da Vinci quickly picked up his paint board and brush and began painting right over that chalice in Jesus’ hands. He didn’t stop until all signs of it were gone—until he re-painted Jesus’ hands outstretched and empty.

His friend came back a few weeks later to see the progress Da Vinci had made on this emerging masterpiece, only to find that his favorite part of the painting was gone. He demanded an explanation from Da Vinci.

Why would you paint over that chalice? It was the very best part!

Da Vinci replied,

Nothing—nothing at all—must distract from the figure of Christ!

And so it is that the final version of Da Vinci’s crowning work has Jesus at the very center, His hands generously opened.

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Christ is the Center. The Center of God’s heart, the central expression of who God is. And God wants our minds, our hearts and lives centered on Christ. Everything else is distraction—something for us to get rid of, push out of the way, paint right over.

We live in a world of distractions. There are many ways for us to lose our focus on what’s most important. Most of our days, we find ourselves paying attention to lesser things. We even get so focused on all the lesser things and they get the best of us. We forget the greater things. And when we do that, our lives get knocked off center.

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Colossians is small on chapters but big on Jesus. It’s only 4 chapters long, but it contains some of the most profound words about Jesus in the entire New Testament. It’s theme? Jesus is bigger than any of us could have ever imagined.

The writer of Colossians declares that Jesus Christ is the voice of God. That when Jesus speaks, it’s nothing less than God speaking to us. That when we look Jesus in the face, we behold nothing less than the face of God. The writer of Colossians says that Jesus is our All in All—the very image of God. Christ is the language that God speaks. When God wants to say something, God says it through Jesus Christ!

United Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton says it this way: If you want to know what’s essentially true about who God is and what God thinks, look at Jesus. Christ is like a colander that we can use to filter out everything around us that doesn’t have God’s best interests in mind. The way to do that is to take all that we hear and compare it God’s Gospel of love that was made manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if anything we hear doesn’t fit God’s Gospel of love, then spit it out, because it’s garbage.

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Imagine if you will an author sitting down in her office sitting down to write a new chapter of a novel she’s working on. Her office is tucked away in the corner of her loft in Brooklyn, New York. But her novel is set in a faraway place: Kenny Lake, Alaska. She’s a few chapters into her story, and the characters are numerous. They lead lives that are far different than hers. Living in Brooklyn, she’s surrounded by much more than she could ever need. There’s food markets and drugstores and fancy restaurants all around her. But, the characters she has created live far away from any of those conveniences—life in Kenny Lake, Alaska is completely different from life in Brooklyn, New York.

The author sips her coffee and stares at her computer screen. She wonders why these first few chapters have been so hard for her to write. It takes her way too long to figure out the reason for her difficulty: In all her life, she’s never been to Kenny Lake, Alaska. And how can she write another word of this story until she makes her way there, steps foot in Alaska, learns firsthand, in person, what living there feels like, sounds like? What Kenny Lake, Alaska smells like, and how the people talk, and how they make a living for themselves.

Sure, she could figure some of that out by making a few phone calls to the folks who live there or doing a few Google searches of Kenny Lake, but nothing could ever be as good as going there and making her own footprints in the Alaskan snow, seeing it through her own eyes, experiencing it all for herself.

Friends, God is the author of our story, and He too needed to know what it was like to set foot on the same ground we walk on—to make footprints alongside our own.

So, in Jesus Christ, God jumped inside His own creation and became a part of it. God wrote himself into His own story—inside of history—and became one of us. In the words of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, God would take the very form of a human being and humble himself, subject himself not only to life as it’s lived in all of its limitations and all of its sufferings, but God would also subject Himself to death—and not just any sort of death, but the worst kind imaginable: death on a cross.

In Jesus Christ, our Mighty God, the Author of Life itself, made footprints in all the dirty, muddy, filthy spaces that make up our own lives. And on the cross, with arms outstretched to embrace the world, God grabs a hold of each and every one of us and draws us in close!

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The Christian life is about living our lives in the company of this God who has become a part of our story. Who now in Christ walks with us through our days and our nights, through our mountains and our valleys, through good times and bad.

God has a human face. That of Jesus Christ. And the Christian life is the practice of living in such a way that we reflect the face of Christ so all those around us can see what God looks like. The Christian walk is that journey we make every time we step outside and go about the busyness of our lives, because whether we like it or not, everywhere we go and in everything we do and say, we are the reflection that Jesus makes onto the world.

So, the question to ask yourself is, What kind of reflection are you making? What kind of footprint are you leaving? Is it that of Jesus?

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In our passage, the Apostle Paul hopes for a day when everything that is created becomes a reflection of God’s goodness and love shown in Jesus Christ. He dreams of a day when Jesus will become All in All; and everything and everybody, and all powers whether visible or invisible, would know who their Maker is and will finally recognize the love and goodness of the God in whose image they were established…and then start acting like it!

In a world that likes to lift up its leaders to the loftiest of heights—that puts them in the very center of the painting—attributing to them ultimate power and authority, we who follow Jesus see that none of the plans these worldly leaders make, none of the laws they institute, should ever be confused with the plans or dreams of God! Thrones, dominions, earthly powers, and all of our rulers come to nothing because we place our hope not in anything that they can do. Instead, we are asked to set our gaze much higher than that. Our gaze is pointed to the Center of it all, who is Christ.

The challenge of the Christian life is never to confuse the platforms and promises of human beings with the power and promises of God given through Jesus Christ and the hope that he brings to our lives.

The reason why we call Jesus King and Lord is because nobody else but He is King and nobody else but He is Lord. Not any king or Caesar, prime minister, prince, or president should ever have our allegiance. Our allegiance belongs not to any earthly ruler, to no political party, to no purpose other than the loving purposes of God through Christ. Our ultimate allegiance will not be placed in anyone other than the One who opens His hands to us and calls us His own. This, by the way, is what scripture means by having our citizenship in heaven. The phrase means a whole lot more than where we will be after we die. It means giving ourselves to Christ right now, on earth just as it is in heaven, and seeing our identity in Christ as far more important than anything else about ourselves, be it our political affiliation, our ethnicity, class, gender, nationality, or any other category the world loves to assign to us. All of those are lesser things. First and foremost, we are Christians, and we live, move, have our being, and walk in the footprints of a Mighty God!

May nothing we call ourselves ever be more important to us than what God calls us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for in Him, we are named sons and daughters of God. And may nothing—nothing at all—distract from the figure of Christ who stands at the Center of the cosmos, the One who is the Author of our story, who is the very Center of God’s heart, and who wants more than anything to be the very Center of our lives!

All praise to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Be Fed

A sermon based on Psalm 63:1-8 and Isaiah 55:1-13 preached on World Communion Sunday, October 4th, 2015

Sermon Audio

The changing of the seasons is a wondrous thing. Just a few weeks ago we were in our bathing suits, diving into pools to cool ourselves down, and now all the sudden cold rain is falling from the sky, and we find ourselves fighting the temptation to turn on the heat in our houses just because it feels too early to give in to the colder weather, as if our stubborn resistance to the inevitable changing of the seasons will somehow keep the warm weather among us for a bit longer.

Even if we invite the change of Summer into Fall, each and every year still the same, this abrupt changing of seasons takes us all by surprise. The lavish growing season is past and now among us is the Harvest, where we gather in what we need to last the upcoming winter. It’s in these colder seasons that our traveling circles grow smaller. We stay closer to home. We take out the extra blankets from our closets and drape them over our beds and our sofas. We huddle in closer to one another. We rely on one another a little more to get through the unkind weather that awaits us. Such is the signal that Autumn sends out.

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Last November in New York City, about 500 people gathered at Saint Bartholomew’s Church the day after Thanksgiving to eat together. The meal was catered, and guests were served roasted turkey, buttered mashed potatoes, red velvet cake, and pumpkin cheese cake, among other fine foods provided by some of the greatest chefs in Manhattan. Each table was adorned with red table cloths and candles. The guests were serenaded by piano and saxophone. Some well-off residents paid $100 for a place at this great banquet. Others there paid nothing. Nothing at all. But each were invited to the feast, anyway. See, this was a holiday dinner for the homeless, and each $100 ticket paid for 2, maybe even 3 plates. Some of Manhattan’s most well-off residents paid the bill in exchange for the honor of eating side-by-side with some of their worst-off neighbors. There in that hallowed space of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, a wonderful, sacred thing happened—something with the power to change everyone who gathered around table that day.

The host that day said he was encouraged that only 2 of 167 people who bought dinners asked not to be seated with the more than 250 homeless people there. At each table, there was a host assigned to foster conversations between the well-to-do and the homeless—to make everyone there feel at ease—and the night was a smashing success. They hope to do it again this year. They also hope that it becomes a nation-wide trend.

One of the paying guests had this to say:

How many parties do you go to with people of the same socio-economic status and you’re bored to tears? It’s good to mix it up.

One homeless man declared to his fellow tablemates with a smile upon his face and a good amount of dignity in his voice,

Tonight, I’m not homeless.

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Today we gather for a Feast around the Lord’s Table. On this World Wide Communion Sunday, we share in a meal with countless Christians in many different places who gather around the same table because, just like us, they have been invited to come—to be reminded that wherever a community gathers together in God’s name, there everyone will have a place at the Table—will be fed, nourished, sustained, and upheld.

There’s no A- or B-list here. No qualifications needed, no reservations required. No labels like homeless or well-to-do. We all come to this table with empty hands. In fact, that’s the only way to come. We must come knowing that no matter what we could bring, it would never be enough. We must come only with our hunger and our thirst, nothing more. In fact, if we brought anything else to this table, it would only show our distrust of God’s powerful ability to sustain us. All we’re told to bring is our emptiness, asking that God may fill it at this meal. God is our host–out Heavenly Host–as we gather around this Table. It is here that we are reminded of God’s great love for us. Here, we are astounded that we have a God who ardently and zealously seeks and finds us, calls us His own, and ushers us in and says to us, “come, accept, delight, and be fed!”

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There are so many empty things in our lives. So many questions we’d like answered. So many relationships we’d like healed. Most of us have made mistakes that we regret making, some of which may have changed the course of our lives in one way or another. We have all said cruel things to others. Thought even more cruel things about others. We have valued things that weren’t worth valuing, people who weren’t worth our time and effort; and we have too easily dismissed other things and other people who we wish we had valued more. God knows about all of these things—our brokenness, our failures, our mistakes and shortcomings—and invites us to the banquet, not despite them, but because of them. Because we who are hungry and undernourished and broken need to be fed with the right things.

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It’s at this Table where we will find, as Isaiah suggests, what’s truly valuable, worth partaking in, worth giving ourselves to. He exclaims in verse 2,

Why spend money for what isn’t food, and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?

We hear voices all over the place, no matter where we go, that do a great job convincing us of what we need to buy, and be, and do, and accomplish. Most of them are offers to spend our money, our effort, and our time, our devotion. And don’t we realize, after buying in, that whatever it was they were selling wasn’t worth buying in the first place? It never really delivered on its promise to fill a missing need of ours. We find out that, whatever it is, it was wasn’t made to satisfy us, but only to appease us temporarily.

This message from Isaiah isn’t only an invitation to a meal. It’s an invitation to assess what’s important and what will truly satisfy. That’s what stewardship is. At its heart, stewardship is earnest reflection upon those things in our lives that have true value and worth. It’s the practice of setting our hearts in the right place, so that we can do all we do—live or entire lives, time, talent, treasure, and all—giving ourselves to those things that truly build us up and nourish us—and our whole being to things that satisfy. The rest are empty calories, junk food for the heart, mind, body, and soul. God wants us to be satisfied, but only with the right things.

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We’re entering Stewardship season. Next week and for the rest of October, we will hear from each of our Committee chairs about what we have done this last year, and what we hope, with God’s help and direction, to accomplish in the coming year. Stewardship season too easily gets whittled down to money. There are, indeed, important questions and considerations we will focus upon this next month that have to do with money, but stewardship is bigger than that.

This month, there will be a time for you and your loved ones to consider how much to give to the the mission and ministry of your church, and we will talk about that, but stewardship season is also a time to ask ourselves bigger questions—far greater questions, like:

How much time and energy do I spend simply sustaining my existence—the existence of my family—rather than celebrating a Divinely-inspired life?

That question is printed on a slip of paper right in front of you. And this one, too:

How can each of my days be lived as if I am the one invited to a lavish banquet of God’s grace?

Keep this slip of paper. These questions are for you. They are your preparation for this Stewardship season.

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And here’s the most important thing about the Stewardship season: It starts here. At the Lord’s Table. With God as our Host—our Heavenly Host—treating us to feast. Without money. At no cost at all. Here’s the thing about what happens at this Table that you’ll never see anywhere else: In a world of self-service, scarcity, stinginess, and empty calories; when we gather together for this feast, we don’t feed ourselves. Instead, we are fed. Here, we rely not upon our own own devices, our own worthiness, our ability to afford this meal: We cannot afford it. It’s simply impossible to afford it. It is instead given to us, lavished upon us, because God is gracious and merciful to us. Come, and be fed!

All praises to the One who made it all and finds it beautiful!

Alleluia! Amen.

Part of a People

A sermon based on Genesis 1:1-5 and Mark 1:4-11 preached on January 11th, 2015.

Sermon audio

Today, we’re taking the moment together in worship to renew and reclaim our baptismal vows.

It doesn’t matter if your parents brought you to the waters as an infant and had you baptized before you knew it or if you came to the water as an adult and proclaimed with your own voice your faith in Jesus Christ, we are all invited today to proclaim once again our identity as daughters and sons of God, and to reaffirm our intentions to live our lives as faithful and willing and active disciples of Jesus.

It is through these waters that God has invited us to become a part of a greater whole.

The waters of baptism are adoption waters. They are a sign and a symbol that God has claimed as God’s own.

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There’s a few things that baptism is not.

Baptism isn’t a ticket to the afterlife, it’s more like an envelope handed to us by a travel agent—a letter sent to you in the mail from God. We are the ones who have to open that envelope, and we are the ones who embark upon the journey.

Baptism isn’t an end in itself, it’s more like the very start of new relationship.

And thirdly, baptism doesn’t enhance sacredness, it acknowledges it. We are already blessed as God’s sons and daughters. But it is through our baptism that we seek to find out what that blessing is for.

It is because of the call of our baptism that we take the time to participate in the life of the Church—faithfully gathering, knowing that as we gather regularly as a faith community, God will shape us into who God wants us to be.

There’s one word we can use to sum all of that up: “belong”.

We are not just baptized. We are baptized into something. Through these waters, we become a part of something bigger than ourselves. With the waters of baptism we claim that we belong to God and to community.

And it is here we gather today on Baptism of our Lord Sunday, around these waters to bless each other as daughters and sons of the living God, and to pledge to one another our intentions to be a part of a people–to embark together on a journey—faithfully gathering together along the way, supporting one another in the life of faith, and to recommit ourselves, body, mind, heart, and soul, and presence, to the faithful pursuit of discipleship.

Come, and be a part. Let us come to the waters.

 Reaffirming Our Baptism

Litany of Scripture

1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 17

Just as one body has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

For in the one Spirit we are all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know that the Lord your God is God,

the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love God and keep God’s commandments.

Ephesians 4:1-3

Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Statement about Baptism

Profession of Faith

Do you renounce evil and the powers in the world which defy God’s righteousness and love?

I renounce them.

Do you renounce the ways of sin that separate you from the love of God?

I renounce them.

Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Lord and Savior, trusting in his grace and love?

I do.

Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple, following his Word and showing his love, to your life’s end?

I will, with God’s help.

Will you rededicate yourself to the mission and ministry of this church, faithfully and regularly attending worship and actively pursuing opportunities for service, mission, and discipleship here at Kuhn Memorial?

I will.                                                                                                                        

Confession of Faith Using the Words of the Apostles’ Creed 

With the whole Church, let us confess our faith. Do you believe in God the Father?

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving for Baptism

Invitation to the Waters

Coming to the Waters

You’re invited to:

  • Dip Your Hand in the Waters

As music is played, you will be invited to walk up to the table at the front of the sanctuary to dip your hand in the waters to remember your baptism and to renew your commitment to discipleship. 

  • Take a River Stone

You are invited to take a stone from either the bottom of the bowl or from the cup of stones next to it. This stone signifies for you that you are God’s own and you have been called through your baptism to be a part of God’s church here at Kuhn Memorial and in and for the world.

  • Light a Tea Light

You are invited to light a tea light to signify the Holy Spirit that descended upon Jesus and upon you at your baptism. It still burns within us who have been baptized. 

As we process, we will sing Down to the River to Pray – Insert