This Sunday, we are celebrating the baptism of Mike and Dede Malloy’s darling daughter Mary Beatrice. And we are really going to CELEBRATE it. For me, not only given Maxine and my 35 years of marriage and our three children and two grandchildren, but also given my daily ministry with abused and neglected and unwanted children and failed and shattered families, the baptism of a child incarnates all that is good and beautiful and hopeful about human life. The service even calls us anew to our mission as Christians.
So this Sunday, Mary Beatrice’s baptism is going to be at the center of our service. I am going to explore with you the reason that baptism has been and still is so important to the church. We are going to talk about what the scripture says happens in baptism, as well as what begins to happen in baptism, and how the scripture says that happens. We are going to examine the language of the liturgy, and how this language is a based upon scripture, so that when we perform the liturgy, the words will come alive for us. Let me be honest about my two hopes for this service. In addition to hoping that we will experience a real celebration of Mary Beatrice’s baptism, I hope that you will leave the service Sunday feeling as if you yourself had been baptized and called anew.
I have to tell you: I’m pumped. I am so very ready for a really hopeful celebration.
Before Sunday, you might take a look at this scripture:
1 Corinthians 6.11,17,19-20
11….But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 17…[A]nyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 12.13
13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3.16
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
2 Corinthians 3.3, 17-18
3 [Y]ou show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5.17
17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Romans 6.3-8, 13
3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness.
5 H]ope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Romans 8.19, 22
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing (fruition) of the children of God… We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains up until now..
Rev. Brooks Harrington
Methodist Justice Ministry of First United Methodist Church, Fort Worth
750 West 5th Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and the needy.” Proverbs 31: 8-9