LIFTING UP OUR BELOVEDNESS
Something magical happened last year in the Parish Hall. We hope to reprise it on Sunday in our beautifully restored Meetinghouse. You might recall our service reaffirming our baptisms and how that good news touched us in a profound way.
In the UCC, we hold that baptism should only happen once. But we also believe baptism is central to our identity and worth lifting up more than once in a lifetime. That’s what this Sunday is about. Our Gospel reading is Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. But as we focus on his baptism, we’ll also recall our own. Most of us don’t recall being baptized, having been blessed as infants. Others were baptized later in life and do recall. But the claim of baptism is so full, encompassing and formative that it remains worth celebrating, noticing, savoring.
For a simple and seminal message is at the core of baptism. This message bears repeating even though baptism only happens once. We all need to hear that we are beloved daughters and sons of the God who made us and who redeems us. The words that God spoke over Jesus at his baptism are true over our lives also.
For we live in a world that oft diminishes us or rejects us outright. And rejection, even in small doses, is always painful. When we can hear and experience within our hearts that we are God’s beloved, that we’re adequate creatures before our Maker; and when we can remain steadfast in this true and deep identity, we can stand strong in any circumstance, come what may, whether supported or rejected.
At both Sunday services we’ll share the Reaffirmation of Baptism, a service from the UCC Book of Worship. It is no rebaptism but a reassertion of what it means to be God’s baptized people. After the sermon, we’ll affirm the UCC Statement of Faith. Then the liturgy takes us into readings, prayers, and the renewal of baptismal vows. At your discretion, you will be invited to come forward to one of two stations. A Deacon will hold the basin of baptismal water, and Gary or I will sprinkle you with a blessing. The point is to feel God’s firm, gracious claim on us. God is for us and believes in our gifts. He never makes any junk in any person.
Following worship, a friend of Cecile’s and mine will be with us, the Rev Shannon White, pastor of Wilton Presbyterian Church. Our Care Circle sponsors her visit, speaking and sharing from her book, Invisible Conversation with Aging Parents. Shannon’s book and presentation is for all families seeking deeper connections during all stages of life. This helps me in my role with my 87 year old mother and 98 year old step-father. But it also relates to 40 year olds anticipating changes with their parents. How can we understand changes we’ve never faced before? How can we have peace with what we can do for family and serenity with what we cannot? How can we talk about their needs and ours in real and authentic ways? Where does the grief of inevitable life and death fit into our years ahead?
At FCC, we would equip families to live authentic, faithful lives. See you Sunday!