In this new year, Bishop Ward reminds us to remember our baptism and give thanks.
Grace and peace to each of you this day in the name of Jesus Christ the beloved. We celebrate the baptism of the Lord in this new year, giving thanks to God for the waters of baptism.
These waters overflowed our Savior in the Jordan river and, as he emerged from the waters, the heavens opened, the spirit descended like a dove and the audible words of God were heard, “This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased.”
It’s remarkable that God said these words to Jesus at the very beginning of His ministry. Before anyone had been healed by Jesus, before any miracles had been done, before any lessons had been uttered from the mouth of Jesus. At the very beginning, God says you are my beloved.
In baptism, these words are said to us as well, and in humbleness, we stand before God this day, giving thanks for the waters of baptism which are God’s good gift to us.
A scallop shell is the rich and enduring symbol of baptism, and in stained glass windows, we often see it, perhaps with drops of water. I love picking up scallop shells on the beaches of North Carolina, and for some reason, it seems that this time of year, in the winter, there are many more of these beautiful calico scallops on the sandy beach.
It’s as if the ocean is throwing them forth for you and I to pick up and to admire. And, as we hear the crashing of those waves and feel the freshness of the ocean air, we have a sense of the freshness of God’s spirit in the lively gift of baptism.
Today, may you remember your baptism and give thanks. And may you go forth into your ministry eager to welcome others into this renewing, refreshing and saving stream from the very heart of God.