February 16, 2018
Remember Your Baptism
February 16, 2018
This weekend’s reading: Luke 23:34
Lent began as a time to teach adult converts about the faith before Easter baptisms. This practice was crucial in the early church when most converts came from other religions. In the Wesleyan tradition, we emphasize God’s grace that comes before everything else, and we acknowledge children as part of God’s household even before they understand what baptism means. Celebrating God’s gift of salvation as free and unencumbered helps us remember that we can do nothing to earn this gift. But at the same time, sound teaching is as important today as ever, so we will not forget Whose we are and where we come from. Studying and learning more about who God is and how God interacts with us is part of our discipline for Lent.
I once had a dentist who was attracted to the spiritual gurus he heard on television, so he was sure to wait till my mouth was full of equipment and then give me the latest thing he’d heard during pledge week. What he heard was pleasant enough, but I did wonder why he was so amazed by one speaker who asked the question, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated each other the way we would like to be treated?” If I could have spoken, I would have asked, did he think this idea was original with this speaker? He attended church but didn’t recognize Jesus’ teaching, nor did he question who would follow this advice without the rest of the story: Jesus’ willingness and obedience that led him to give his life to change us so that we are open and willing to live filled with love of God and neighbor.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 gives a vivid picture that resonates in our own time. In our congregation, we are blessed with sound teachers and preachers. Are we really listening? Do we have “itchy ears” for someone who will tell us only what we want to hear? We are asked to “Remember our baptism and be thankful.” Even if we were too young to remember being baptized, we can remember what it means to be baptized, and we can remember to be thankful.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Have you ever heard a lecture or a sermon that you felt was telling you what you wanted to hear rather than what God wanted you to hear? How do you judge what is good and sound teaching?
- What opportunities to learn about our faith do you enjoy? How can we encourage more participation in the learning opportunities of our church?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Share stories of baptism. If there are children present who were baptized as infants, remind them of the day, who was present, and what led to the decision to baptize them.
- Read and discuss the service of baptism in the United Methodist Hymnal (p. 32 &ff.) or read it here.
Loving God, in thanksgiving, help us to remember our baptism into Jesus’ death and our hope of being raised like him to a life like his. Tune our hearts to your word and guide us through this holy season. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.