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Posts Tagged claim

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 “Save A Life” RSUMC 20150405 Easter Sunday

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them–though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. [NRSV]

My Task is to Remind You about Jesus

  • Jesus wants a relationship with us, brothers and sisters, join heirs.
  • God has been at work before you knew it or even claim it
  • God’s Good News of Jesus Christ is the footings/foundation of our faith
  • God’s Good News concerning our relationship through Jesus is to be shared
  • God’s Good News is the witness of God’s actions of love and saving grace.

You can believe this Good News to be true in your head and miss the power of the relationship.

  • A marriage certificate is not a marriage. I marriage is covenant shared with God.
  • When I hear folks at a funeral say, “At least I hear him say he had given his heart to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. So I don’t have to worry about his salvation.” I begin to worry about the salvation of the person making that statement.
  • Jesus died and came back to life, raised from the dead, not to hear our words but to claim our heart and relationship.
  • (Cartersville Pickup Truck Funeral: [tragic construction related death, two wives and a girl friend meet at the funeral home for the first time.] “At least we thought he was a church going man based on the bulletin in his bible.”)

Paul’s Caution #1 “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you–unless you have come to believe in vain. 

I want to show you a simple invitation: a 9 volt battery

Did you know in thsmokealarme National Fire Prevention Association reported last year that 47% of wired smoke alarms are non functioning, and 56% of battery only smoke alarms were non functioning.

Nearly 80% of those had missing or worn out batteries.

On average there are 120,000 deaths related to structural fires. The potential for 96,000 fewer deaths if we knew for sure, that the smoke detectors had working batteries.

When they called people and ask them, do you have a working smoke alarm with a new battery, 74% reported yes

When a random sample went to visit the same homes to check the battery charge level, only 45% had working batteries.

What is the difference between knowing the statistics and actually plugging into the power to have device that saves lives?

-It is the same difference between knowing about Jesus, and being plugged into the power of God’s Spirit, through Jesus.

How many people think the words and say the words, but have dead or missing batteries…

How many people know the stories and see the church, but respond negatively or with apathy, just ignore the news?

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working battery would you be willing to knock on someone’s door to offer them the potentially life saving gift of a 9 volt battery, and if they would allow you to plug it in, you would both know you had doubled the chance that no one in that home would die from a fire.

If you knew that most homes don’t have a working relationship with Jesus Christ, would you be willing to knock on someone’s door or heart, to offer them the TRULY eternal life saving gift of the Risen Lord who died for their sins, and if they would allow you to start a relationship of faith with them, you would both know you had a 100% CERTAINLY that their life would not end, even when their body dies.

Paul’s Main Point: Receive and Renew your understanding of what Jesus did on the cross and LIVE in the power of the resurrection starting NOW.

CHRIST died for a purpose: to take the blame for our broken heart with God. jake_Blues_grace.jpg

  • GOD knows us:
  • we forget,
  • mess up,
  • get in a jam,
  • fall off the wagon,
  • the dog eats our homework,
  • the car breaks down,
  • we loose our job,
  • we forget to study,
  • we miss the deadline,
  • we get distracted
  • and tempted…
  • we sin, big ones and little ones,
  • we drift or run..

God says to all that: I AM not focused on the blame.

  • I give you JESUS, my child’s life to cover all the blame and brokenness.
    • I don’t want to hear the excuses. (I want see the relationship)
  • I want you to see the value of the gift and return to the table.
    • I hope you will respond with appreciation/praise for the sacrifice, I your maker, have given  you.
  • God wants us to see the gift and respond because God loves and claims us first.
  • God’s grace is not an after thought…
    • along through the scriptures we see God continues to make covenants and we continue to break them.
  • God is working with workers who don’t show up to work except on pay day.
  • God exchanges the power of death, not just the death of one person, One died for all.
  • God moves us past the death of this body, for a living relationship, not the life of one person, One lives for all.

This is what Easter message is about.  

  • It’s not just about Jesus,
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for your life and relationship.
  • its about God’s eternal love and value for our lives in relationship together.
  • Remember the gift and passion God exchanges for us
  • Re/Claim and know/grow in the power of God’s life for us.

So it’s important to remember: Where I see Jesus… 

  • I see Jesus in the work and pray of quilts
  • I see Jesus going in a paper lunch bags shared with hungry
  • I see Jesus in the support of small groups and classes caring and challenge growth
  • I see Jesus in preventing death from illness like malaria
  • I see Jesus in the middle of family crisis, when families feel they are at deadened/wall and see no hope, God opens lives, hearts and doors to find a way through the crisis into a new life, new relationships and new visions
  • I see Jesus in the hands of working youth who did more than play at the beach, but opened their hearts to care for families who are hurting.
  • I hear Jesus in your music and singing
  • I hear Jesus in your questions, prayers and testimony
  • I feel Jesus in your compassion and hospitality and generosity
  • I taste Jesus around the table when we gather at his table
  • He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today…. Tell the world, show the world, Jesus Christ lives in you and me. Amen.
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Sunrise 7am Dausett Trails Chapel JUMC Worship 20140420.07:00

Sunrise 7am Dausett Trails Chapel  JUMC Worship 9&11 Easter “Whom Do You Seek?” 20140420 SeekingGod

Lectionary Readings from NRSV for Easter 2014 below:
Colossians 3:1-4 (7am Sun Rise)

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. If you have been raised with Christ. I would guess that on any given Easter Sunday, 99% of those who show up at an Easter Sunrise service are indeed already believers. Who in their right mind would get up so early to take part in a service they had no idea what it was about. So I’m, as they say, preaching to the choir, this morning. I would also guess the Paul writes to the church at Colossi knowing they are believers. But they are believers who might have lost the connection with what it means to be raised with Christ. The power of Christ’s resurrection affects our life more than our death. Christ arose so that we could start living the whole life God has for us from our birth, confirmed in our baptism, strengthened throughout our lives and bridges us through death into eternity. So much our grief over those loved ones who have died is evidence that we forget what it means to be raised with Christ. Certainly we miss them in the flesh with us, but in Christ we are never separated. I know my father’s love, guidance and tears in my walk. He was my best friend. He still is. The emphasis Paul implies is not so much ‘IF’ were are raise, but ‘SINCE’ we are raised with Christ. His word remind us of the foundation of our faith and the bedrock of our relationship. This is the Good News of the Easter story: He is alive, for us. Christ is alive because God has a claim on our hearts and struggles. Setting Your mind on Christ Sometimes we think the answer is to focus our mind on some area we would like to change and that would be enough to transform our living. I struggle every day making choices about my diet. I struggle every day making choices about my work, my finances, my relationships and my life. Paul gives the starting point for transformation. The best way to a person’s heart starts with their mind. We see, hear or experience a hungry child and our heart is motivated to feed and save. We see a broken step or windowpane at a neighbors house and we have the perspective they have learned to over look. We become aware of our neighbors sins and struggles and our mind can judge and condemn or our mind can have compassion and identify with our own sin and struggle and work toward mutual healing. The starting point is in the wonderful mind that God has created, but it is not the final answer. Our heart is the target that God claims and seeks to unite. Hiding or Revealing The tradition of Easter eggs is rooted in a way of teaching about the treasure of the tomb. It would be a more accurate practice if they eggs that children hunted were found to be empty instead of filled with treats from the magic bunny. Bunny have been used for their prolific ability to reproduce which points to the power of the resurrection. It would be a better example if we replicated the Easter message as prolifically as bunnies multiply. But with those knocks against the Easter bunny and his hiding eggs the text begs us to ask are we: hiding or revealing Christ in how we live our lives. I don’t know about you but I’m guilty of both. Sometimes I thrilled to share the Good News and help folks hear and know the love God has for them in Jesus Christ and him crucified. And other times I am hiding in fear, frustration and sin.

  • Paul writes to encourage the church to be proactive in remembering and reclaiming the hold Christ has on their lives. His words invite us to do the same.
  • He writes to give them a starting point: First set your mind and your heart can follow. If both your heart and head are not heading in a Christ like way, we are fooling ourselves, and others. (but not God.)
  • Finally Paul asks us to reveal what is hidden and allow the light of Christ to guide our whole lives.  In doing this the resurrection we celebrate at Easter lives in us now and for ever.

It’s Easter: You are claimed by Christ, set your mind on God and grow in Spirit by sharing Christ with others.

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Matthew 3:13-17 “I Need to be Baptized..” JUMC 20140112

baptism3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.  And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]

Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.

We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.

Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.

Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.

In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.

Have you been baptized?

Do you remember?

I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.

When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.

It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.

Divine Divide of Grace and Time

In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.

  • 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
  • Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
  • 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
  • There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
  • 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
  • This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.

This is My Child

The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.

Questions and More Questions:

So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?

The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.

Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.

The Door is Open

Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.

We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.

There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.

A View from the Lap of God.

If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.

If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.

If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy

SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?

It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.

God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?

Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)

We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.

This is why we are a church.

To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.

When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?

(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)

Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.

Come on in, the Party is on!

 

 

 

Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org

In all forms of Christian baptism, God claims those being baptized, whatever their age or ability to profess their faith, with divine grace. Clearly an infant can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age.

Most traditions that practice or recognize as valid the baptism only of believers — those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ for themselves in some public way — practice baptism not as a means of grace by which God saves and claims us, but rather as a further act of public profession and/or an act of obedience to the command of Christ that his followers be baptized. That is why these “believer’s baptism only” traditions generally refer to baptism as an ordinance — an act ordained or commanded by Christ — rather than a sacrament. The term sacrament means “an oath” and refers to God’s covenant with us (first of all) and ours in response to God’s gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ.

United Methodists recognize the baptism of “believers only” traditions, provided those traditions baptize people in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as generally understood in historic Christianity. We offer baptism to people of all ages who have not previously received Christian baptism in any form. We do not rebaptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our first emphasis is upon the gracious action of God who establishes the covenant of baptism with us rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Who tells you who you are?
We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.

To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.

God Initiates the Covenant
We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.

God Has Chosen Us
Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”

The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

Baptism Is the Door
From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

Why Baptize Babies?
From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.

Baptism Is Forever
Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.

Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End
You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.

If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.

What Is a Sacrament?
The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

From A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism by Mark C. Trotter.

Q. Does The United Methodist Church now have an accepted understanding of baptismal theology and practice?

A: Yes. Our church’s position is expressed in the services of the Baptismal Covenant (especially Baptismal Covenant I) in The United Methodist Hymnal, 1989, and The United Methodist Book of Worship, 1992, and in By Water and the Spirit. All of these have been approved by the General Conference — the only body that can speak for the whole denomination.

Q: What does United Methodism fundamentally believe about baptism?

A: Baptism is a sacrament. In a sacrament, God uses common elements — in this case, water — as means or vehicles of divine grace. Baptism is administered by the church as the Body of Christ. It is the act of God through the grace of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Q: What is the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism?

A: In all forms of Christian baptism, God claims those being baptized, whatever their age or ability to profess their faith, with divine grace.Clearly an infant can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age.

Most traditions that practice or recognize as valid the baptism only of believers — those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ for themselves in some public way — practice baptism not as a means of grace by which God saves and claims us, but rather as a further act of public profession and/or an act of obedience to the command of Christ that his followers be baptized. That is why these “believer’s baptism only” traditions generally refer to baptism as an ordinance — an act ordained or commanded by Christ — rather than a sacrament. The term sacrament means “an oath” and refers to God’s covenant with us (first of all) and ours in response to God’s gracious provision of salvation in Jesus Christ.

United Methodists recognize the baptism of “believers only” traditions, provided those traditions baptize people in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as generally understood in historic Christianity. We offer baptism to people of all ages who have not previously received Christian baptism in any form. We do not rebaptize those who have already received Christian baptism in any form. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our first emphasis is upon the gracious action of God who establishes the covenant of baptism with us rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Q: May we have our baby dedicated instead of baptized?

A: No. The theological understandings of the two services are very different. Dedication is a human act — something we pledge or give to God. Baptism is a divine act, a pledge and gift God gives to us. Baptism of infants includes the reaffirmation of the vows of the baptismal covenant by parents, sponsors, and the congregation; but chiefly it celebrates what God is doing and will do in the life of the infant.

Q: Isn’t it better to wait until they are older and let our children decide for themselves whether or not they want to be baptized?

A: No. We no more wait for our children to decide about being in the family of God than we wait for them to decide if they would like to be a part of our human family. As parents, we make many decisions — in matters of health, safety, education, for example — for our children. Of course, they may later reject what we have done for them. But this possibility does not relieve us of the responsibility to do all that we can for them spiritually, as we do in other aspects of their lives.

Q: How about christening?

A: Christening is not a separate ritual, but rather historically part of the ritual of baptism. The use of the term christening for the sacrament probably comes from two sources: chrism is the word for the anointing oil traditionally used in baptism as a sign of the sealing by the Holy Spirit; second, in the past, children were sometimes actually given their (Christian) names in baptism. In our current ritual, parents are not asked for the name of the child, but the pastor does baptize with that name and without using the family or surname. This meaning of christening is expressed, for example, in a ceremony for the naming of a ship. Unfortunately, the term christening has been used sometimes in our history as a way of diminishing the significance of infant baptism or of indicating that it is something different from and less than the baptism of an adult. This view is completely inconsistent with the Wesleyan understanding as expressed in By Water and the Spirit, the Services of the Baptismal Covenant in our hymnal and book of worship, and The Book of Discipline.

Q: Is sprinkling the only way that United Methodists baptize?

A: No, our church has always offered to people being baptized and to the parents of infants the choice of sprinkling, pouring, or immersion.

Q: May I be baptized again if I feel the need?

A: No, baptism is an act of God, and God does it right the first time.Our side of the covenant relationship with God will need recommitment and reaffirmation, but God always remains faithful to the divine side.

Q: How can I “remember [my] baptism and be thankful” when I was baptized as a baby?

A: What we are called to remember in reaffirmation is the gift of God’s grace, not a particular event. Through appropriate remembrances and celebrations, our children can be enabled to “remember” their baptism as much as they “remember” their physical birthday.

Q: May a person who has not been baptized participate in Holy Communion?

A: Yes, our church does not seek to close God’s Table, although the historic and normal Christian order of the sacraments is baptism first — as birth into the family — and Communion following, as continuing nurture at the family table. Pastors and congregations reach out and encourage those who partake at the Table to share fully in the life of God’s people, including coming to the font after appropriate preparation.

Q: Should every baby be baptized?

A: No, the baptism of a baby assumes that the child will be nurtured and formed in the faith at home and at church.

Q: How do we express our own decisions to be Christian disciples if we have already been baptized as infants?

A: In services of profession of faith and confirmation before the congregation, we respond to God’s grace by repenting of our sins, declaring our faith in Jesus Christ, and becoming professing members of the church.

Q: Does baptism mean that I am saved?

A: No, salvation is a lifelong process during which we must continue to respond to God’s grace. Baptism offers the promise that the Holy Spirit will always be working in our lives, but salvation requires our acceptance of that grace, trust in Christ, and ongoing growth in holiness as long as we live.

Q: Do I have to be baptized in order to be saved?

A: No, but baptism is a gift of God’s grace to be received as part of the journey of salvation. To refuse to accept baptism is to reject one of the means of grace that God offers us.

Q: How can I recommit myself to Christ when I have had a powerful spiritual experience?

A: Confirmation and profession of faith are only the first of our affirmations of faith. As we experience God’s work in our ongoing lives of discipleship, we can express our commitment through participation in services of baptismal reaffirmation (Baptismal Covenant IV).

Q: Does baptism make me a member of the church?

A: Yes, baptism is the act of initiation and incorporation into the universal church of Jesus Christ, The United Methodist Church, and the local congregation, as our ritual makes very clear.

Q: Is there more than one category of church membership, according to By Water and the Spirit?

A: Yes, all people who are baptized become baptized members. Those who are baptized at an age at which they are capable of professing their faith must do so and become professing members as well (they cannot choose to be baptized members only). Those baptized as infants or young children do not become professing members until they are able to profess their own faith.

Q: Does this mean that little children can vote and hold office in the church?

A: No, the governance of the church and other such matters will be the privilege and responsibility of professing members. A similar distinction operates in secular government: Children become American citizens when they are born, but they cannot vote or hold office until later in life.

Q: Will our church start counting baptized members and regain the membership numbers we have lost in the last several decades?

A: No. While other records will certainly be kept, only professing numbers are to be counted in statistics of church membership.

Q: How will our system of rolls and record keeping be changed?

A new system of record keeping designed by the General Council on Finance and Administration went into effect in January 2005. These new records and forms are in accord with actions of the General Conference regarding our theological understanding of baptism and membership. The most salient changes are the development of a “Record of Faith Journey” for each member and of a “Permanent Church Register. ”

Q: What is the difference between “full member” and “professing member”?

A: The difference is the distinction between an institutional orientation and a communal orientation. To be a “full member” is something anyone can be in any secular (or volunteer) organization. Being a “full member” usually means simply that “I have joined the institution; I have paid my dues.” To be a “professing member” is to make a statement of commitment and participation in a community of disciples. Being a “professing member” expresses continuing action both within the faith community and in the world. It is a statement about an individual’s ongoing relationship and commitment to God and the church through Jesus Christ.

Q: Is a “baptized member” and a ” preparatory member” the same thing?

A: No. “preparatory members” are people the church views as candidates for membership. That category includes “baptized children and youth of the church eighteen years of age and under who are not full members, and other persons who have been enrolled in confirmation preparation.” (2000 Book of Discipline ¶ 229.2 ) “Baptized members” communicates our sacramental understanding that in baptism people ” are initiated into Christ’s holy church.” (“Services of the Baptismal Covenant,” Service I and II)

Q: Why does The United Methodist Church so understand baptism, membership, and salvation?

A: United Methodism stands in the historic heritage of the Christian faith through the ages and, specifically, in the legacy of John Wesley.Wesley was an Anglican priest. As a result, United Methodism has inherited a “high” understanding of the church, the sacraments, and other aspects of worship. Wesley was also an evangelical revivalist. As a result, United Methodism emphasizes the necessity of conversion, personal relationship with Christ, and witnessing to others. Neither of these aspects alone represents who we are. As United Methodists, we hold the two together in our baptismal theology and practice and in our broader understanding of how God works in our lives for salvation.

Worship Resources with The General Board of Discipleship.

 

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Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “Baptized with Spirit” JUMC 20130113

baptism
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  [NRSV].

Baptism

At the end of a bowl game, two of the players who are strong enough to lift the orange Gatorade ice cooler but not usually known for much playing time on the field anoint their coach on the sidelines within a few seconds of the ending of winning the game. Have you ever seen the loosing coach receive the icy bath at the games end? Maybe that baptism is only for winners.

Mr Webster: defines baptism as a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community ( an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named )

As United Methodist, Mr Wesley might call baptism a dependable experience of Grace and presence of Christ With Us.

But what is ‘baptism’ to us, today?

It is that rare sprinkling of a baby’s head when they are still small enough to be carried or the even more rare confirmation student who was not baptized as an infant coming with class or the even most rare of all is the adult or teen who comes to accept full baptism into the church.

Baptism is the ticket stub. Do you remember when Hank Arron hit the home run to break Babe Ruth’s record? I had the ticket from the game at the end of the prior season where he hit 713.  You say “so what” about that game? It was the game where I was there, in person, a shouting and celebrating fan, cheering hope and faith that history would be changed in my presence. That’s my ticket to the game I attended. I went friends from my class at school. It was a glorious night in the nose-bleed seats of FUL-CO Stadium.

Baptism is our ticket into the church. It is the open door. Once you enter through baptism, you know the heat of Christ is always open. Do you know someone who thinks that door is shut for them? Think what they are missing:

Adoption

Isaiah 43:1-7  But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.  Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.  Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;  I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth– everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” [NRSV]

Adoption is a good example of the relationship of Baptism. The parents choose the child knowing much about the child. Gender, health records, birth parent and/or context of life prior to becoming part of one’s family.

God knows us before we are ready to claim God and God’s family. Baptism is as much about God Choosing us and our choosing Christ.

Did you know that UMC clergy/pastor have the right and responsibility to deny someone who they believe should not be baptized and kept out of the church. Generally we are so desperate for members we would do anything to baptism someone. They do put pressure and measure the success-fulness of our ministry leadership by the number of baptisms we have during a year. I struggle with this because we don’t want to be like our Baptist Neighbor churches and focus just on getting people into the heavenly seats, we also want the relationship that should go with the ticket.

Claimed vs Owned

Hear God’s words in text from Luke: “This is my child.” Imagine what this world might be like if more parents would claim their children. We are starting a class for all you guys beginning the last Saturday of this month. Letter’s from Dad. (You don’t even have to be a father to participate) In this class you will learn to write letters of blessing. Your whole family will benefit and you will be the hero. Don’t miss it! You will miss out and so will those you love.

The parent’s claim upon a child is a powerful gift for both the child and the parent. Tell you children that you love them. Tell you parents that you appreciate, love and forgive them. Tell you spouse, significant-other, girl/boy friend that you respect and admire them… butting in writing, say it out loud, make it real.

God speaks and sends a the spirit in the form of a dove. Saying I claim and accept you. I don’t own you. We don’t have to have a relationship but I choose to claim you any way.

The Active Witness

Going to those who are missing the POWERFUL part of faith.

Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [NRSV]

If there is someone who may have head knowledge about Jesus, but no spirit of joy, spirit of hope, spirit of faith, spirit of forgiveness, spirit of love, spirit of grace, trust, peace… then get to them and lay hands on them.

The first thing I learned about being a brother is that no matter how dirty the diaper, you can always wash your hands. But if you don’t get your hands dirty sometimes, then you all enjoy the foul smell of a diaper gone bad…

Our challenge in hearing this story of God’s claiming and Jesus being baptized is that ALL of use are in this together and if you’ve not been baptized, what are you waiting for? if you have who will you lead to the water and to the Holy Spirit?

Peter and John, go to bring the power of the Spirit and change complete families and communities… This is why we are a church. This is what we do. Baptism in Jesus Christ.

REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM!

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