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.
Back in 2012, shortly after I first started blogging, I posted this poem that I wrote at least 20 years ago. It is more true today than it was then… and fits perfectly into the theme of the blog I posted earlier today.
Have Faith and Step Out
Don’t overlook your life’s importance
or minimize your worth.
It doesn’t matter if you’re on an allowance
or on Social Security;
No matter where you are in life,
You have so much to give.
The vital part of your life
Never disappears or fades away.
Each of us is vital to God.
He gives us the courage to go out and live,
to heed His call and step out in faith
on a new journey today.
In faithful obedience, lean forward to hear Him; He doesn’t shout. His call is quiet and personal. Get serious. Listen carefully. Are you up for a new journey? Have faith and step out!
Thanks for checking back in with me. See ya tomorrow.
In joy you step out Trusting every step you take Listening for His Word
Guided by scripture, And not your understanding, You can Walk the Talk!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Listen for His Leading
In my Daily Guideposts 2020 devotional today, Kim Taylor Henry told us about her trip to the Holy Land. God took away her fear of traveling to that part of the Middle East. She listened to His prompting when an invitation showed up on social media. Signing up for the trip was a leap of faith.
Is there a place you would like to visit, a spot you’d like to go, but for whatever reason, you are hesitating? Take it to the Lord in prayer, and listen for His leading.
I have had Maine and Nova Scotia on my “Bucket list” for about a decade now. I am not sure why that part of the world is calling me. Is it the lobster? The ocean? The farm stays? A cruise opportunity? In my 80 years on earth, I have never taken a cruise. Many (if not most) of my friends have. I can die happy without ever going on a cruise, but I feel God calling me to that part of the world. I wonder why?
Maybe It’s the Lighthouses
I have had a long-standing love of lighthouses. I wrote about them back in November of 2018
God places in our hearts other reasons to have certain places on our Bucket List. Usually for me, the places I want to travel have little to do with the place. They have everything to do with the people. (That’s why we have traveled to Switzerland so many times… our daughter and her family are there!)
If you have followed my blog for awhile, you will recognize these people below as my cousin, Janine, and her husband, Cliff. I posted about Cliff’s battle with esophageal cancer last November 9th. Since that time he has been through Hell and back… and is a determined survivor.
Janine and Cliff moved a year or so ago from the Seattle, Washington home where we last saw them – about 5 years ago, I think – to Clinton, north of Seattle on Whidbey Island. Wikipedia tells me Clinton is on this 3.7 sq. mi. piece of land whose total population back in 2010 was less than 1,000. I am sure it grew by leaps and bounds in the last decade. Wikipedia has a few delightful pictures of it on their website:
But, it is not the scenery that draws me to this place. As I said, my motivation is the people I love. As I listen for God’s leading, God calls me to the love.
What is the next step you’re ready to take? Are you leaning on your own understanding?
Ask God to make your path straight. Listen for His leading. Then step out in faith.
2020 is a year for 20/20 CLARITY. It is a time for New Beginnings. What will they be?
THESE DAYS, Daily Devotions for Living in Faith, ended its 2019 entries with this prayer:
“God of all our beginnings, plant your hope so deeply within us that we never lose it. Show us the beauty of small beginnings and nurture Your life within our own lives.”
I have a dear friend in California who is sending inspirational scripture with music and devotionals each day during this season of Advent. Today she sent a link to a song that started my day with a smile.
The song, composed in the minor key, is perfect for this season. Do you know it? The choir and soloists are superb:
“Come to set us free, come to make us your own. Come to show the way to your people, your chosen. Open our lives to the light of your promise. Come to our hearts with healing, come to our minds with power, come to us and bring us your life.”
For me, Advent is the season of Adventure – a season of reaching out to others in love while we prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ child each Christmas.
I know many of my readers are people of other faiths, and I respect your right to worship the One God in your chosen way. But, I hope you feel a sense of greater love, more generous giving, and the promised peace during this holiday time of the year. I hope the drama, the stress, and the conflict are minimized in your life… and you can find JOY in the hustle and bustle of the season.
Gracious God, Be with my Word Press friends this season. Bring them JOY and PEACE. Help them live with compassion and reach out in love. In His name I pray, Amen.