This Sunday is celebrated as The Baptism of Christ. The focus scripture is Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 in which we have the story of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River so long ago. In our Monday night Bible study those present shared stories of their baptisms which ranged from being baptized as babies to full immersion in water as older children, teens, or adults in church baptisteries, the ocean, and even the Mississippi River!
Baptism is so special that it is one of the two sacraments recognized in the United Church of Christ. Promises are made to God, by parents, if the one being baptized is an infant, or by the candidate if he/she is old enough to speak for his/herself. In the UCC, we believe that baptism is a once-in-a-life occurrence, that your spirit is “water-marked”, like expensive stationary so to speak, for life.
A minister posting on the Desperate Preacher blog called baptism, “…a ‘wash and wear event’. Some of you may remember a time before wash-and-wear or Permanent Press fabrics were invented. Clothing was wrinkled after being washed until it was sprinkled with water and ironed. In baptism we are washed by the spirit and given new clothes. We are clothed with Forgiveness, Identity as a child of God, and Spirit. In baptism God places God’s stamp of ownership and approval on us.” We are washed and called to wear our Christian identity in loving ministry in the world.
As part of Sunday’s worship we will be renewing our baptismal vows, just as couples renew their marriage vows. In doing so we will remind ourselves of what has been promised, make those promises again, and be blessed in the process.
I invite you to remember your own baptism story and think about its meaning for your life today. I hope you’ll be present Sunday to be part of this special time of worship!
In Christ’s love.
Pastor Candy Thomas
Christ Congregational United Church of Christ