Blessed Jesus, thank you for joining our humanity and being in solidarity with all that we are. As you got in line with us, help us to also get in line with you and one another. Amen.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my baptism that happened when I was 12 years old in the Baptist church that my family had been members of for generations. We arrived early that Sunday morning in time for me to change into a white baptismal gown and join the other candidates.

When it was my turn, I was gently led down the steps of the baptismal pool, where the pastor gripped by hand and instructed me to close my eyes and pinch my nose. He whispered words of calm and reassurance and I felt as safe as I possibly could.

“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” he announced, then with a backward dip and splash, down I went into the tepid water while the adults stood around singing:

Take me to the water, take me to the water, take me to the water to be baptized.
None but the righteous, none but the righteous, none but the righteous shall see God
I love Jesus, I love Jesus, I love Jesus. Yes I do… [1]

I can’t say that much changed in my life immediately after that, but there was a deeper sense of belonging and “big-girlness” that I had not felt before. Cathy was now part of something grander in the life of the church (small and capital letter “C”), and not just because of my parents but because of myself. It was beautiful, and it mattered.

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward and spiritual grace, and that is true whether it happens as a baby, pre-teen, adult, fully immersed, sprinkled, lightly touched on the head, a personal confession or someone made that profession on our behalf. In that moment, we are sealed and claimed as God’s own forever.

This Sunday we will celebrate “Baptism of the Lord” and remember Jesus’ baptism as well as acknowledge our own whenever or however it happened. As much as anything, baptism is also about new beginnings and fresh starts.

Together, we begin again in this new year with hopeful expectation that God will be with us as promised and every step of the way.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Cathy