Dear Hyde Park Family,
Today is my 47th birthday, which means among other things, I have a lot of renewing to do. I have to run over to the DMV and renew the registration on my car. While Grace is back for a break from college, we are going to renew our passports, which expire soon. We will also be renewing our participation in the TSA Pre-Check program, to ease getting through airport security.
But the most important thing I’ll be doing is joining you all this Sunday in renewing our commitment to our baptismal vows. My birthday always falls somewhere around the second Sunday of the year, when Christians around the world celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday. We will be coming forward, touching the water, and experiencing again the God who “gave us new birth through water and the Spirit.”
THE THREE QUESTIONS
Before we do, we will stand together and say, “I do” to our baptismal vows. These are vows that connect us to centuries of Christians who affirmed these promises before God, rooted in the ancient liturgies of the Roman Catholic Church.
In those ancient rituals, those to be baptized stood before God and the people, facing toward the west, which symbolized the world’s darkness, as they responded to these first two vows:
1. On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you: Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? (I do.)
2. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves? (I do.)
Then, the person would turn toward the east, in the direction of the rising sun, a spiritual and physical turn toward the Light of the World in Jesus, as they affirmed their commitment to him:
3. Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races? (I do.)
BAPTISM OF THE LORD SUNDAY
This Sunday, as we continue the start of our journey through the Bible, we make numerous connections between the story of baptism and the stories of our day. We reject the world’s powers that would lure us toward war, in the wake of rising escalations in the Middle East. We accept the freedom to resist the injustices of global climate change, especially as we see the horrors of earthquakes in Puerto Rico and catastrophic fires in Australia. We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior and place our trust in his grace, in a time when agnosticism and cynicism against organized religion is on the rise. And we work to honor and serve a church “which Christ has opened to all people,” in a society where white supremacy, hate crimes, and discrimination against persons for their age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation are on the rise.
The sacrament of baptism is as much a counter-cultural statement as it is a theological one. We are not only turning toward Jesus, we are turning our back on everything in our world that would subvert the way of Jesus, the way of peace, love, justice, and grace for all people.
Join me as we remember our baptism and conclude the book of Genesis as part of The Bible Project 2020. See you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
BIBLE PROJECT 2020: READINGS FOR THE UPCOMING WEEK
We are just getting started! Visit bibleproject2020.com to join our journey through the Bible. On that site you can listen to our excellent and insightful weekly podcasts, download our daily devotional, learn more about our exclusive Facebook discussion group, join a small group, and more!
- Jan. 9: Genesis 24:1-25:18. Isaac and Rebekah. Who will you meet to draw into an experience of God’s love?
- Jan. 10: Genesis 25:19-28:9. Jacob and Esau. How will we avoid passing bad traits to future generations?
- Jan. 11: Genesis 28:10-30:43. Jacob’s dream and marriage to Rachel. How will we live lives of truth and integrity, rather than trickery and deceit?
- Jan. 12: Genesis 31:1-36:43. Jacob wrestles with God. How might it be okay to wrestle with God, in a way that results in blessing?
- Jan. 13: Genesis 37:1-41:57. Joseph and his brothers. How might God be working in your life over the long haul, to form you more into the image of Christ?
- Jan. 14: Genesis 42:1-45:28. Joseph forgives his brothers. Whom is God calling you to forgive? From whom do you deed to ask forgiveness?
- Jan. 15: Genesis 46:1-50:26. Jacob’s last words, and reconciliation in the family. How might you extend hospitality to those that others might exclude?