This Sunday we attended church at the Bloom in the Desert Ministries in Palm Springs, CA. As usual, I took notes while listening to the sermon.
The scripture was Matthew 3:13-17
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade Jesus by saying, I should be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!” But Jesus replied, “Leave it this way for now. We must do this to completely fulfill God’s justice.” So John reluctantly agreed. Immediately after Jesus had been baptized and was coming up out of the water, the sky suddenly opened up and Jesus saw the spirit of God descending as a dove and hovering over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Own, my Beloved, on whom favor rests.”
Through my poetic filter, this is what I heard as Reverend Kevin A. Johnson’s message:
The proper completion of a called journey Is the return… the coming back. In our creed, Jesus went down and came back. The Jews and Greeks both were taught that fact.
Today’s scripture tells us that baptism Is personal, and effective for life. Some believe as babies, others think when older, Is the appropriate time to wash away strife.
Baptism is a remarkable, memorable event. It’s a ritual recorded long before Jesus was born. A thousand years earlier, immersion was practiced. The dove hovering was a symbol that glorious morn.
It symbolized the love of God entering in. Baptism is a commitment – a starting point. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the Jordan River, Or if it’s in some crumby back-street joint.
Baptism is a time to promise a mind-set That puts love, compassion, and respect first. It’s a universal embrace of Jesus’ teachings – A chance to promise, and then daily rehearse.
Baptism can occur as a teen or an adult when the person is “of the age of reason” and chooses to publicly agree to live a life of love in God’s grace, with compassion and respect for others, following God’s commandments.
Or – baptism can occur as an infant. In that case, it is the promise of the parents to raise this child in love, teaching the child to obey the commandments … living in grace and obedience.
Do you remember your baptism? I don’t remember mine. My sister and I were baptized when she was about two and I was an infant. There are no pictures, no certificates, no proof… but my sis says she remembers it, and my mom said it happened. So I should believe them.
However, as Rev. Kev said at the beginning of his message, baptism is a part of a journey… and it requires the return, the coming back. Rev. Kev showed us the certificate of his baptism. He can tell you the date, the place, and the time – and he went through confirmation later as a youngster (maybe about age 12) at which time he reaffirmed his parents’ baptismal promises.
Baptism’s Purpose and Proof
I tried to locate my baptismal records. However, the church where my baptism supposedly occurred no longer exists. Decades ago a fire destroyed it and all the records that were in it.
Baptism is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior. It testifies to the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to the believer’s faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Do I doubt my faith in the risen Savior or question my membership in God’s family? Not for a minute!
Baptism has been a symbolic way of joining the Church from the very start of Christianity. The water used is a symbol of washing away sin and the start of a new life. Do I think perhaps I am not “a Child of God” because I don’t have the paperwork to prove my sin was “washed away”? No!!
But would I like to be able to say I have experienced a “proper completion of a called journey” by finishing the trip, coming back to my baptismal roots? Yes!
Baptism is Once and for All
Sometimes I question if infant baptism is once and for all. I wonder if perhaps I should be baptized as an adult now. Do you think at 80 I should reaffirm the baptismal vows that my mom agreed to when I was an infant?
Today’s sermon reminding us to remember Jesus’ baptism and affirming the importance of baptism has me pondering these questions.
Forgiveness is a two-way street. Not only do we need to forgive others, but we need to forgive ourselves. Sometimes that is much harder than forgiving others.
So, as this decade of 2010 to 2019 ends, commit your heart to forgiveness. Let go of any hurts from others. Tell them so. And let go of those regrets that creep into your heart and cause you to scold yourself.
None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all say things and do things and think things that we regret afterward. Forgive yourself … and move on!
Let those mistakes (sometimes intentionally placed in our lives … so not mistakes at all) be building blocks toward a better you! With 20/20 CLARITY, let this new decade be a time of strength and sincerity, compassion and courage, challenge and change, faith and fearlessness.
Know in the midst of life’s struggles that you are never alone. In my devotional this morning, I am reminded of God’s love for me and His changelessness with Ps. 59:10
It is our fluctuating emotions that cause us to ask for forgiveness and then take back the guilt that God has taken from us. We try to forgive, but we remember. We remember our own wrongs. We suffer the wrongs others have inflicted on us, carrying them in our hearts long after we think we have given them to God. The devo from Guideposts for today tells me, “Stop that!”
Accept His forgiveness. Acknowledge His death that took away our sins. Know His changeless love and His unconditional acceptance of us. And pray with me the prayer Rebecca Barlow Jordan wrote as our “Faith Step” for today in the last entry of Daily Guideposts 2019:
“This coming year, as I confess any wrong things in my heart to Jesus, (either my own wrongs or those inflicted on me by others), remind me to thank Him for His changeless love and acceptance. (And help me imitate His unconditional love as I interact with others… and with myself.
Today is the 28th birthday of my #1 grandson, Mike.
I have written a memoir titled, All My Marbles. I did it with my grandchildren in mind. I want them to understand who their grandmother is (from my inside perspective), how I met their grandfather and what our early days of marriage were like. I hope they enjoy getting a glimpse into who their great grandparents on their mom’s side of the family were, too.
In the memoir (of which I have only printed a couple rough draft copies), I devote one chapter to each of my seven grandchildren. The chapter devoted to Michael, Grandson #1, begins this way:
Let me tell you about our first grandchild, the one who was “in the hatch” when DeAna and Andre left California to live in Switzerland.
“Paaaay-shuns!!” Mikey whined. I chuckled. Standing in the tiny Swiss kitchen, heating milk to put in the plastic pouch for her toddler’s bottle, our daughter, DeAna, felt a tug on her apron. He had heard his mom say, “Patience!” so many times already in his young life. It makes me smile twenty-six years later when I think of it.
Since this is now his 28th birthday, you can see I wrote that memoir two years ago.
After taking a look back at how our daughter happened to be in Switzerland – how she and Andre’ met, etc. – I go on to tell more about Mike.
Mikey was two weeks old in December of 1992 when we arrived to visit for his first Christmas. De and Andre had a cute little apartment in Crans-Montana, a ski resort area high in the Alps above the city of Sierre where Andre and Mikey both were born. What stands out in my memory from that three-week visit are four things: 1) the joy of holding that healthy, chubby little baby, and seeing our lovely nineteen-year-old daughter as a mommy, 2) the fun of introducing Mikey to the village where he was living as we took him in his stroller through the snow to the little resort town down the mountain, 3) the luck of meeting Liz Bestenheider in a Montana boutique and introducing her to DeAna a day later or so – they would ultimately become very good friends – and 4) the love of the extended Swiss family who took us in so graciously. We had been acquainted with that extended family of Solioz/Zufferey since 1981 when our first AFS exchange student, Christian Zufferey, came to California. So in many ways it was “old home week.” But now we weren’t just related through an international organization, God had sealed us in a covenant! What a joy!
Mikey was a very easy baby. Quiet by nature, he was generally happy. He didn’t cry unless there was something really wrong. He would sit for hours in his stroller or the infant seat, content to watch patiently whatever was happening around him.
By the time we saw him on our second visit the next December, he was the toddler who was reminding himself to be PAAAY-shunt – and he was learning other words and actions that amused us. Since he was the first grandchild on both his maternal and paternal sides, adults doted on his every word, every burp, and every new action. We have a drawer full of videotapes taken of him before his brothers came along.
Mike’s been here to Montana with his brothers and his mom, but it’s been a while. Time to bring Tania and come back to Grammy & Grampy’s. In the picture above, Mike’s youngest brother and his mom (our daughter, DeAna) were here last May. It’s time for Mike to return, too. Happy Birthday, Mike!
Here he is (the one next to Bob, his Grampy) in his younger years – with his two brothers.
Have you written a memoir? Do you have grandchildren? If so, how old are yours? We wish we could see ours more often!