Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baptism: God's Friendship in Community

In baptism, we are identified by God as belonging to a community.  

Yet baptism is not a simple tattoo, or rite or milestone: it is a transformative experience in which God lives in us and we live in God within a grace-filled community.  That’s our indelible identity.   We become empowered by God’s grace.

We celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River. This celebration invites all of us to renew our own baptismal promises so that we can live ever more transparently as disciples of Jesus, trying to do, as best we can, what is right.

John the Baptist is an interesting personality in the Gospels.  His vocation or calling was to point to Jesus as the Messiah. We might ask whether we reflect Jesus Christ in our relationships.  

And what is John doing?  He is baptizing. Inviting people to turn toward God and away from selfishness. Baptism is a rite of initiation into a community of disciples.  
As Jesus comes up out of the waters, the Spirit or power or energy of God overwhelms Jesus. He is indeed God's "Beloved Son," anointed to carry out his Messianic mission, drawing human beings into a filial relationship with God.

Why be baptized?  To answer the question, we first have to understand who we are in relationship to God.  

The Book of Genesis captures this graphically. In the beginning, Genesis says, man and woman walked with God; they had friendship with God and friendship with one another.  But somehow they lost that relationship. They hid from God; man blamed woman; and even the earthly elements began to work against them.  

But human beings are forever searching for something greater than themselves that can give ultimate meaning and purpose to their lives.  That "something" is a relationship with God.

That's why God became flesh in Jesus.  Jesus, through his horrible death and glorious resurrection re-established that relationship.  Thus baptism initiates us into a community of disciples who have a relationship with God

Our God is a God of love; and our response is gratitude. This planet, and the people on it, reflect the image of God.  All creation – God’s people especially -- is worthy of reverence.  

God deserves our time and that’s why we take time to grow in that relationship.  This same God challenges us to support virtues. As we reflect upon the baptism of Jesus, let us renew our own promises, to live godly lives as sons or daughters of God our Father.  

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