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March 04, 2020
Lenten Mid-week Worship
Basis of this series: https://www.livinglutheran.org/2020/01/unwrap-the-gifts-of-discipleship/
Romans 6:3-4 – “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
There are a lot of things that define who we are in the Lutheran church. But at the core of our identity is the sacrament that defines whose we are. In Holy Baptism, God claims us as God’s own. With just a little bit of water and a few words, God’s love goes from being some nebulous “out there” concept to something we can touch.
That touch is what we carry with us and it helps ground us in our identity as God’s people. And our identity is shaped by the promises made in baptism.
When we’re baptized as an infant, those promises are made on our behalf. And when we’re baptized as an adult we make those promises for ourselves. In both cases, we renew those promises many times throughout our lives – daily on our own, and sometimes formally here in church as part of a worship service.
When we renew them here in worship, we’re asked the question: “Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism?” It reminds us that the promises we’ve made didn’t begin with us, but with God.
But the question doesn’t end there. It continues with five additional invitations that call us to action:
To live among God’s faithful people;
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper;
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed;
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus; and
to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
None of these are requirements that we have to fulfill in order to earn God’s love; rather, they mark the ways we live in response to God’s love for us, and God’s commitment to us. They flow into each other and into faithful living. They teach us about Jesus and what it means to live as one of his disciples.
So during Lent this year, we’ll take a look at each of these marks and explore what they can look like as we live into them. There are five, and we have five Wednesdays together so it works out well. 😊 So we begin with the question, do you intend to continue to live among God’s faithful people?
When I have this conversation with people prior to a baptism, I’ve found that the easiest way to phrase this question is “do you intend to continue coming to church?” Or, “do you intend to continue bringing your child to church?” And their answer is always, “yes.”
I ask the question that way because attending worship, being part of a faith community, is an important part of that intent. Because when we answer that question as a faith community, it’s always, “We do, and we ask God to help and guide us.”
Recognizing that we need God’s help in this is critical, because being in community isn’t always easy. We all have the best intentions, we all want what’s best for our community – but we don’t always agree on how to accomplish that. And we don’t have to.
But as we work together, remembering that God has claimed each of us in love, even the people you disagree with, shapes the way we interact with each other and reminds us of the touch of God’s love that we receive in baptism.
And that allows our relationships with each other to deepen and create stronger roots. And as that happens, we discover more opportunities to practice forgiveness, mercy and hospitality in here and out in the world.
And what we learn is that living among God’s faithful people isn’t limited to what we do here. It allows us to not only see God at work in our world, but to participate in God’s work.
My invitation to you this season is that every time you touch water – which is probably a lot, given the current recommendation to wash your hands frequently – every time you touch water, remember your baptism. Remember the touch of God’s love that you received, and the promises you’ve made. But more importantly, remember God’s promise of love to you and that your identity in that is part of you wherever you go. Amen.