I shared these words with Highland this Sunday morning as part of our marking of Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1. May you remember your baptism with compassion for your former self, your present self, and your future self – all of which are immersed in the grace of our baptismal waters.
In your home today as you worship, I invite you to remember your baptism. How did the water feel? Warm? Cold? Flowing? Stagnant? What thoughts filled your mind? How fast did your heart race? Was it conviction that led you to the water? The Holy Spirit nudging you? Or custom? Tradition? The desire to escape the flames of hell that your pastor described with spit flying out of his mouth every Sunday? Is that what conviction looked like back then to you?
What were you hoping was going to happen in the waters?
Were you expecting to feel different when the pastor lifted you up?
What were the lunch plans to follow? Gifts you anticipated coming along with this moment?
For many of us, remembering our baptism causes us to recall our ignorance – just how naïve we were. There was so much we did not know. There was so much we did not understand.
I want you to return to the waters with me this Sunday as we pray. As I pray, I want you to imagine getting back in those baptismal waters alongside that former self – the one you were when you were baptized.
What would you want to tell him or her or them?
What embrace would you offer? Words would you say?
What would you want to say to the pastor who baptized you?
If you didn’t feel safe with that pastor, you may need to ask him to leave the baptistry before we pray.
Let’s begin our prayer with a moment of silent reflection.
God who holds all of time together in divine harmony – smoothing out the edges with grace, mercy, understanding that is beyond our capacity to hold,
- Show us how to love our former selves with tender compassion –
- admiring our courage to publicly proclaim faith and get drenched in public
- forgiving ourselves for all we did not know
- wrapping ourselves with the grace that became our birthright in these waters.
- Strengthen us to love our present selves with tender courage.
- Dare us to quit again whatever new self-saving attempts that we have adopted over the years.
- Dare us to accept forgiveness and live in humble recognition of You, surrendering over all we cannot control and realizing that the world is better for it.
- Prepare us to love our future selves with tender devotion –
- imagining our future selves standing with us in the baptismal waters,
- forgiving us for all we do not know today,
- wrapping us with the grace that is our birthright all the way to the end
We pray to You, for we know now that we cannot will You into being but that You will us into being – filled with grace and truth – and we are free. We declare our faith: Jesus Christ is Lord – our crucified and risen Lord. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we baptize and we pray, Amen.
Be assured, baptized community – those who have been baptized before and those whom God is calling even now to enter the waters. Here in the waters, we are buried with Christ and raised by the Spirit to walk in the resurrection life of the new creation.
We are baptized into the mystery of God’s drenching presence. God smiles as we let go of the burdens we bear on our shoulders and choose again to follow Jesus – going where we would not go on our own, loving people we could not love out of our own goodwill, defying powers and principalities that cannot be defied by human willpower and strength alone.
God smiles as we embrace our identity as we rise from the water – new creations, belonging to Christ, who practice resurrection daily. We are one body – the baptized family of God – whose past is healed, future secure, present wide open and wild with resurrection hope. Let us sing our faith.