The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
When I was a baby, my parents baptized me in their Methodist church. They dedicated my life to Christ and promised to raise me in the ways of Jesus. I was just an infant, so I don’t remember what my baptism was like…but I still have the dress I wore and the certificate of baptism in a box in my closet, and sometimes I pull them out as a reminder that I am a loved and beloved child of God.
As a young adult, I attended a Vineyard church with my Mom and sisters. In the Vineyard tradition, infant baptism is not recognized. They believe in what is called a Believer’s Baptism, that baptism should be a chosen act of conversion into the faith. So, at 12 years old, I chose to be baptized a second time. This time rather than being sprinkled by the pastor I was baptized by full submersion in a big tub of water inside a church sanctuary.
It is unorthodox in our denominations to be baptized twice, but I am thankful for the experiences that I have had. I love that my family dedicated me to God when I was just a few weeks old. I love that they promised to raise me in the Christian tradition. I also love that I was given the opportunity to make an informed choice to be baptized into the family of God. I don’t regret either of my baptisms, even if the UCC and the DOC would both honor either of them.
The Disciples of Christ view baptism as “… a public act by which the church proclaims God’s grace, as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through the use of a visible sign of God’s gracious initiative and the human individual’s response in faith.
With other Christians the DOC affirms that baptism is at once a divine gift and a human response. The meaning of baptism is grounded in God’s redemptive action in Christ, it incorporates the believer into the community found in the body of Christ, and it anticipates life in the coming age when the powers of the old world will be overcome, and the purposes of God will triumph.”
While most Disciples prefer to recognize and practice a believer’s baptism, they will recognize baptisms from other traditions, including infant baptism.
The United Church of Christ views “baptism as an outward and visible sign of the grace of God. Through baptism a person is joined with the universal church, the body of Christ. In baptism, God works in us the power of forgiveness, the renewal of the spirit, and the knowledge of the call to be God’s people always. For infants and children, baptism marks their acceptance into the care of Christ’s church, the sign and seal of God’s grace and forgiveness, and the beginning of their Christian faith and life.”
So, no matter how or when you were baptized, I want you to know that your baptism is recognized and honored in our church. If you have not yet been baptized, I would be happy to talk with you sometime about whether you would like to be.
This morning, as we remember Jesus’ baptism and the declaration from God that Jesus is God’s beloved son, you are also invited to remember your own baptism. You are invited to remember that your baptism welcomed you to be a part of the community of Christ and acknowledged that you too are loved by a God who is well-pleased by you.
The bowl of water that you have with you this morning will serve as the waters of the remembrance of your baptism. Let us enter a time of reflection as I read this invitation to the baptismal font:
Invitation to the Water
Gathering Around the Baptismal Font
Come to this font
to find blessing and
hear the divine echo
sweep over the face of the waters
calling out blessing and joy.
Come to pull up
a chair beside this basin
or bowl or whatever you found
in the back of the cupboard
to remember that God’s grace
doesn’t require gold or silver,
but is poured out in
Come to splash
and wade into this water
to hear again that you are beloved.
You have brought pleasure
and glory to God’s name.
Come and touch the water
to remember God’s love for you.
I invite you now to remember your baptism. Put your hands in the water and feel it washing over them. Remember that in the water we find God’s love for us, we find the life that God wants for us, and we find the covenant that we have made to be one with God and with each other. Remember that you are dearly loved and beloved by a God who knows you by name. As you feel the water on your hands, hear these closing words:
Baptismal Waters Litany
Written by the Rev. Melissa Reed
When they say: you are alone.
These waters say: You are “with.”
When they say: You are too broken, damaged goods, too wounded, not enough.
These waters say: Enough, beloved. Enough.
When they say: You are too brown, child, Too black. Too queer, child. Too fat.
These waters say: Beautiful, child. Beautiful.
When they say: You are too addicted, stranger.
Immigrant, alien. Criminal. Too far gone, stranger.
These waters say: Home, neighbor. Welcome home.
When they say: We could sell these waters and turn a profit!
These waters say: We are the waters of the Jordan,
the waters of the Atlantic, the waters of the Charles.
We are the waters of your Mother’s womb, and we are free!
When they say: Fear.
These waters say: Trust.
When they say: Commodify. Consume.
These waters say: Life.
May it be so in each of our lives, now and forever. Amen.