Jan. 11, 2018

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Last year, a worshipper asked this profoundly intriguing question: “Pastor, what does it mean when you say to us, ‘Remember your baptism, and be thankful?’ What if I don’t remember my baptism?

Great question. I don’t remember my baptism, either, as I was only seven months old at the time. What worth is it to remember our own baptism if we were too young to remember it?

For me, part of the answer is found in my baptism certificate, which I saw for the first time about six years ago during a visit to my parent’s house.

  • I was baptized a Presbyterian. That was a bit of a shock to learn, but as they say, I guess it was predestined. It was in a church outside Pensacola, where my aunt worshipped. She has since been a spiritual rock throughout my life, praying for me during some of my darkest times.
  • Her signature on my certificate as one of my godparents is joined by those of my uncle and aunt, other relatives who have prayed for and supported me since my earliest years and into my ministry. My first cousin is also a United Methodist minister, and his influence on me as a youth is one reason I eventually felt called to ministry myself.
  • It names both of my parents. There is my dad, Maghirang. It is from his name that mine is derived. Take the first three letters of his first name and combine it with the first three of his middle name and you get my first name. My middle name comes from the maiden name of my mother, Teresita. Put it all together, and my name is a symbolic convergence of two ancestral streams that make me who I am.
  • It reminds me of where I was born and when I was born: Jan. 9 (I just celebrated a birthday two days ago.) And it reminds me of the day I was baptized – Aug. 26.

So, what does it mean to remember my baptism? It doesn’t mean recalling the specifics of the event itself, but the ongoing impact that it has made ever since.

It means remembering that since the day I was born, God is at work in me. Even before I could realize it, God was putting together the people, conditions, and influences that would draw me toward a commitment to Jesus Christ and a lifelong journey of faith. It reminds me that I am not a self-made person, but am the sum result of many people who have poured their love, support, nurture, and prayer into my physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Mostly, it reminds me of who I truly am in God’s eyes. I like the way Josh Childs, host of the Methodist web series “Chuck Knows Church,” describes baptism in this quick, informative video.

We receive our identity from others: from the expectations and influences of friends and families and from the labels that society puts on us. But to become a Christian is to receive a new identity. We no longer allow others to tell us who we are. Christ now claims us.

This Sunday, you will have an opportunity to remember your baptism. Or, perhaps more accurately, remember that you are baptized. Remember that you have been created and claimed by God, nurtured by people who have loved you along the way, and drawn by the Holy Spirit into a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ. You may not be perfect, for none of us are. But God’s grace is at work in and through you, just as it has from the beginning.

And for that remembrance, you can be grateful.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega, Senior Pastor

We give thanks for all of you who have made a financial commitment for 2018! We have surpassed the total number of pledges from last year, but are still short in total dollars to maintain and sustain the current level of ministries. The Committee on Finance meets this Wednesday to adjust and finalize the budget proposal for this year, based primarily on your commitment. If you haven’t turned in a pledge, please consider making one of any size, using this link.

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