Dear St. Lukers,
Baptism. One of the two sacraments in the United Methodist Church. Communion and Baptism are the sacraments Jesus invited us to participate in: “Take and eat”, “Go and baptize in my name.” Participatory acts by which God acts toward us, means of grace by which through ordinary items (bread, juice, water) extraordinary stories of unconditional love, mercy, and grace come to life in the retelling of the gospel story.
In baptism through water and the spirit, we hear again the words spoken to Jesus when John brought him up out of the river Jordan: “This is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Prevenient grace in the proclamation of God’s love toward him, spoken at the beginning of his ministry, before Jesus did anything. Justifying grace by which through water and spirit we are made new, given a new name and new family as God claims us as children. Sanctifying grace as we walk away from the water’s edge, living into this identity being defined as one thing, a child of God.
This Sunday, we will have an opportunity for you to come to the water’s edge, literally. At 5:30 p.m. we will join together on Lake Down at the home of gracious St. Lukers for a reaffirmation and baptism by immersion service. Park at the church where the shuttle will begin running at 5:00 p.m. We will sing songs, participate in liturgy and prayer, and then walk into the lake for a chance to reaffirm God’s promise and claim of grace on our lives, or receive this gift from God for the first time.
Notice I wrote reaffirm, because as Methodists we do not rebaptize people, this is God’s act TOWARD us, and God gets it right the first time. We will reaffirm the promise for anyone who wants to come and remember whose they are. Come and sit in prayer and watch in celebration as people enter the water and find themselves and their God. You can RSVP here, or just come if you are so moved.
Sunday morning Pastor Jad and I will take you back to grace school as we remember the work of Justifying grace. We will share what it means for the individual, but also challenge each of us with some deeper understandings of justification, hopefully inviting us to the water’s edge for new and different reasons. Read the prodigal son and if you are seeing Mary Poppins this weekend, consider what moments in the story are gifts of grace that turn people around and make them wholly different. How has grace turned you or someone you love around to become a whole person? Let those stories be a part of your prayer time as you prepare for Sunday in your spirit. Then consider spending Sunday afternoon with us to see grace come to life. It’s my favorite service of the year and I promise you will be changed even just by watching.
See you Sunday at the water’s edge,