As we celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday this week, let us give thanks for the refreshing of baptismal waters and for the unity we share with all God’s people.
(Bishop Ward also highlights the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Resources are available at https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer/week-of-prayer).
Grace and peace to you, God’s beloved, as we approach the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday.
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens opened, the Spirit descended and the audible voice of God spoke saying, “You are my beloved. In you, I am well pleased.” God’s words were spoken to Jesus as he began his ministry. God’s words were full of hope and promise and power. We hear these words also, an echo of God’s words to Jesus.
In our baptisms, we are called God’s beloved. In the service of baptism, we are asked if we trust in Christ, if we turn from darkness and sin to follow Christ and if we promise to serve Christ through the universal church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races. In answering these questions, we become a part of the universal body of Christ. That’s our first membership.
Secondly, we are asked if we desire to join The United Methodist Church, this family of faith, loving grace and mercy, and practicing discipline as we grow into holiness. Third, we’re invited to state our intention to join this congregation locally of The United Methodist Church and to support the work of Christ in this place through our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness.
The order of these questions is instructive. We are first members of Christ’s universal church. We, with people of other Christian traditions follow Christ together and we, as Methodists, often say, “If your heart is as my heart, give me your hand.”
So as Baptism of the Lord approaches this Sunday, let us give thanks again for the refreshing of baptismal water and for the unity we share with all God’s people. Later this month, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will be an opportunity for you to walk across the street or down the road and to worship and pray and serve with your neighbors, Christians who follow Christ in other traditions.
May the light of Christ shine upon all God’s people in this holy season.