Here we are now, at the end of this first full week of 2015. I don’t think I’ve written “2014” all week!
We had our first Leadership Team meeting of the new year, and welcomed new members. We had our first staff meeting of the new year. We’re working on Lent, and a number of our folks are writing devotionals for this year’s Lenten devotional series. The altar/worship crew took down all the Advent and Christmas decorations which so beautified our space and enriched our worship. We’re moving on with the new year.
This first week 2015 has brought one funeral and one memorial service at our church. And this week we have had several members rush to the side of family members who are ill. It’s been cold—1 degree on my deck Thursday…dangerous cold and snow in some places. We were surprised by a dusting of snow on Wednesday, which cleared out the Wonderful Wednesday crowd in a hurry! The kids missed a day of school.
In the news, we grieve with the French over the terrorist attack, and, as I write this, I am praying for a peaceful end to the crisis, as the terrorists are reportedly holding hostages in a print shop.
It’s a new year, and we hear some of the same stories of violence and brokenness, of hardship and heartache. We shouldn’t be surprised. It’s the nature of this world. But what we must do is stand strong and proclaim our faith in the One who calls us in all times and places, in all circumstances and crises, to live and proclaim the love of God that never ends, which can never be defeated, and from which we can never be separated.
This Sunday we’ll do some of that as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord—always the First Sunday After Epiphany. It’s Mark’s version we’ll hear. In fact, Mark is the primary Gospel for the rest of this year, so most Gospel readings throughout the year will be from this oldest and briefest of the four Gospels.
I’ve been struggling this week with how best to talk about baptism…Jesus’ baptism, and our own. It’s just occurred to me that I’m struggling with this so much because I think it’s so very, very important. I suspect that only the Easter stories are as or more important than the stories of Jesus’ baptism—when, that is, you consider all the implications. (I’ll probably get some friendly argument on that one, and that’s ok!)
So be sure to be there on Sunday as we attempt to once again plumb the depths of baptismal identity and purpose, and as you’ll each have opportunity to come forward, touch water, and remember that you are baptized, or anticipate being baptized, by whatever gesture is meaningful to you.
If you have a friend not in church, especially one who might be questioning what faith is all about, or maybe one who thinks churches are irrelevant, invite them to come along. There might be a word of encouragement for some, challenge for others, as we explore our baptismal identify and purpose.
See you Sunday at the baptismal font,