Blessed, Beloved and BaptizedPentecost
I’m going to begin by reading from a children’s book: Today is a Baptism Day.
I read this book when my grandson was baptized. The author, Anne Ostenso Moore writes that she is “aware that the Holy moment when a child is baptized is one of deep hope for parents. And although it is parents…who say “yes” to baptism for their children, it is by God’s grace, which often is a Holy Mystery, that their children receive the gift of adoption into God’s family. This moment is… for every day after – meant to guide, transform, challenge, and inspire our lives and our children’s lives forever.” Today is a Baptism Day
Today is a day of hope.
Hope in God’s call to each of us as beloved children.
Today is a day of unity.
Unity in one God, one faith, one Baptism.
Today is a day of love.
The love of your parents sharing the love of God with you.
Today is a day of community.
A community that will worship and wonder with you.
A community that will nudge you toward God.
Today is a day when we say,
“I will, with God’s help.”
(Today is Baptism Day for Robert and Sophia Roenicke.) What better place to begin their story of baptism and our participation in that story than on the banks of the Jordan River. When Jesus asked to be baptized, John was taken aback, hesitant, and even resistant. He replied to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you.”
Jesus indicated that it is proper for us through baptism to fulfill God’s plan already at work. To understand the meaning more fully, look at how the story emerges.
As Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove and a voice from heaven proclaimed, “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus is opening a new direction for himself spiritually and vocationally. His ministry was just beginning, and this was the ritual to clarify his mandate.
In baptism, God claims us and names us to show that we belong to God. We are tempted to forget that God has claimed all people as beloved children.
Christian author Rachel Held Evans said, “I think we are all children of God. …that baptism acknowledges that [we are God’s beloved child] and you don’t become a child of God when you cross off a list of things to do or even when you are baptized. Being baptized is simply a naming, an acknowledgment of someone’s existing belovedness…Jesus didn’t only begin to be beloved by God when he was baptized.”
Baptism names us and in baptism, we ask God to be our guide.
As parents, we think we have control— we name our children and make decisions for and about their lives. We live with the illusion of control throughout the course of our children’s lives.
This leads us to the Genesis story of Hagar and her son Ishmael, whom she had borne to Abraham. Abraham’s wife Sarah made it clear to Abraham that she wanted Hagar and her son sent away. This news distressed Abraham, but God told him not to be distressed and reassured him of his promise for the future.
Hagar’s story is one of rejection and isolation. She and her child were sent to wander in the wilderness, and she was sure her son would die. She set him under a bush and wept. She lacked the ability to control her surroundings.
God was watching and present. Ishmael’s name is not given in this part of the story and yet the meaning of his name is significant. His name means “God will hear.” God did hear Ishmael and claimed him as his own. In our baptism, we too are claimed as Christ’s own.
We want to know who we are and in baptism, we are told we are beloved children of God. Part of the baptismal liturgy is a renunciation of the ways of sin that separate us from the love of God. Baptism is a renunciation of all those competing voices in the world that cause us to forget that we are God’s beloved. Whether we are remembering our baptism as an infant or as an adult, the significance of our baptism is that we are named by God, and that is good news.
Today is baptism day. A day of hope. A day of unity. A day of love and community. On this day, we gather to worship and wonder, as we are nudged toward God.