This coming Sunday, January 13, our Church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Our Gospel reading comes from Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22. John explains that someone mightier than he will come after him, someone who will not only baptize with water but with “the Holy Spirit and fire.”
John set the stage and Jesus came. A voice from heaven said: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” And all of us who have been baptized should also hear the same wonderful affirmation–we are now sons and daughters of a good and gracious God.
In our Church, and maybe in others, the baptismal rite includes emersion or pouring of water on the head of the newly baptized.
Immediately after the water rite, we take oil infused with balsam, which has been blessed by the bishop, and anoint the head of the one being baptized. A white robe and candle are then given to the person.
This Sacrament, for us, is the Sacrament of Initiation, which includes the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confirmation.
After the emersion and anointing with the Oil of Chrism, the priest or deacon prays over the newly baptized and reminds them and all listening that they are now a “priest, prophet and servant leader.” This is an awesome vocation that we have.
We are called to priestly, prophetic and servant leadership in the congregation and in the world. And no one understood this tremendous vocation more than Martin Luther King. He reminds us: “I happen to be a minister of the gospel…and in that capacity I have not merely a priestly function but also a prophetic function.”
We know from experience that it is much easier to stress worship and prayer, the priestly functions, of being a Christian than it is to be truly prophetic.
We can pray and worship in a beautiful sanctuary and sort of forget that we are prophets and servant leaders also. The world and it selfishness, racism, sexism, poverty, and violence are the places we need to be.
We are not only concerned with a person’s soul, but the whole person. It is our task, essential for a Christian, to be involved in making peace and social justice a reality here and now. That is messy, I know. It is much easier to åstay in church, right?
The Church is here to bring good news to those who are waiting to hear it. Our baptismal calling urges us to bring God’s healing presence wherever there is brokenness and pain, poverty and violence.
We Christians have an awesome vocation, if we are welling to live it. Come and worship with us any Sunday at 8 or 10:30 AM, at 4051 N. 25th Street.
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