Dear Hyde Park Family,

A PASTORAL WORD

Before I get to the heart of today’s Midweek Message, I offer a pastoral word in response to the violence we witnessed in the United States Capitol Building yesterday. It was deeply disturbing to our ideals as Americans. It was a reminder of how far we have descended as a society down a death spiral of incivility. It was a demonstration of how broken we are as a people, and our inability to agree on common truth and see past our differences. Let us be in prayer, that we may have finally reached the bottom of our depravity and our racial divide, so that we can begin the work of restoring a peace with justice, and a love for all people.

If you would like to view my pastoral response shared on the church Facebook page last night, click here.

REMEMBRANCE OF BAPTISM

This Sunday is one of my favorite days of the Christian year, as we join with Christians around the world in remembering our baptism. I invite you to have some kind of container of water with you as you join us online, and those worshiping in person under the ministry tent will have a chance to remember their baptism around the Courtyard fountain.

To prepare for this service, I invite you to remember three timely words that come from Matthew’s version of the story of Jesus’ baptism, in Matthew 3:13-17. In the early days of Christian history, the act of baptism was always preceded by a period of lengthy instruction called “catechesis.” The baptismal candidate would learn the essence of the faith and gain a fuller of understanding of what it means to profess their faith in Jesus.

Matthew’s version contains the closest thing to catechesis prior to Jesus’ baptism, as it contains a conversation between Jesus and John. The story teaches us three important lessons that we can remember through our own baptism.

1. You are not God.

When Jesus requests a baptism from John, the first thing John did was exhibit profound humility. He said, “No, Jesus. I’m the one who needs to be baptized by you, not the other way around.” John got it right, of course, and it’s a reminder that despite our talents, initiative, and privilege, we are not God. We should always assume a posture of surrender and service to God, rather than expecting God to serve us.

2. You are enough.

In case we take the first reminder too far, and see ourselves as too unworthy to be of any useful purpose to God, Jesus speaks the second lesson: “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was essentially telling John that God has indeed given him all that he needs to be his truest self and to fulfill God’s purposes in the world. You may be so fixated on all that you feel is wrong or shameful in your life, but God sees something in you that you do not see. You are enough. God has given you all you need.

3. You are beloved.

The final reminder may be the most important one of them all. As Jesus was emerging from the water, the heavens opened, the spirit descended like a dove, and the voice of God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” That word beloved comes from the Greek word agape, or unconditional love. Friends, no matter what is happening in your life, no matter what fear, grief, or isolation you may be experiencing, remember this: You are not just loved, you are beloved. Really, really loved. By a God who created you, claimed you, and saved you in Christ.

That is the power of remembering our baptism, it challenges us and comforts us with these three lessons:

1. You are not God.
2. You are enough.
3. You are beloved.

Join me this Sunday as we remember our baptism, with great gratitude.

Grace and Peace,

Magrey

The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

 

 

 

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