“They asked, ‘Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’” John 1:22
Who are you? What do you say about yourself? It seems these days, we wonder and question a lot about who people are and what they have to say about themselves. Too often, the message is not what we want to hear. People in high political positions of authority and power seem to disappoint us on a daily basis about what they have to say about themselves. More virtuous folks squeeze by in an election. We can hope that we know these people as folks of purpose, promise and possibility. In other high places, as noted in John’s gospel, the priests in the church are feeling the threat of a man named John who comes to testify to the light of Christ. They ask, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?”
How do you respond with asked, “who are you?” Perhaps people don’t ask the question with such deliberation. But, what do you say when probed about who you are? This week, we asked this question to folks. Some said, they usually respond that they are the parent of so and so and/or the partner of so and so. Another said they identify themselves by what they do: “I’m the bookkeeper.” “I’m the teacher.” “I’m the government worker.” I wonder, how many of us when asked, “who are you” respond as John the Baptist, as the one crying out in the wilderness. John is the one who, plunging folks into the water, sins washing away and life anew awaiting, knows who he is. He also knows Christ is the one who comes to form us and mold us to be who we truly are. John tells us, get ready, straighten up, a light that shines on all the people, coming among us is Jesus Christ and he will bring us into a baptism of God in Christ and the Holy Spirit.
It is through our Baptism that we come to be Christ’s own forever. Soaked in the waters of baptism, plunging into the Holy Spirit, we become children of God in Christ. In our tradition, baptism is our entrance into a life in Christ. Baptism is a sacrament, an outward sign of God’s inward and spiritual grace, given to us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s grace is God’s favor upon us freely given, unearned. There’s nothing we can do by “get” God’s favor because God has already decided that all warrant God’s favor. The central figure in the sacrament, is not John’s, not mine, not ours. A sacrament “is” because it’s God’s doing, thru Christ with the Holy Spirit. Our job in living with the sacrament of God’s grace washed over us thru Christ with the Holy Spirit is to live a life in response to our baptism.
Several times a year we celebrate Baptism with Epiphany in worship on Sunday mornings with the congregation serving as a public witness to the sacrament. Living a baptized life is living a changed life. We enlist the “church” to support us in living a changed life through baptism.
Babies, children, youth, and adults may all be baptized. Baptism is only once. So, if you’ve been baptized you are already marked and sealed as Christ’s own and you know exactly who you are!
Would you or a member of your family like to be baptized? Please, let me know. Give me a call at: 703-466-5200 ext. 102. Or, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, simply respond to this Hump Day message that you or another you know wishes to become a member of the body of Christ through Holy Baptism. We’ll talk for a bit to prepare you for baptism. We’ll schedule the baptism. You’ll want to invite all those dear to you to come serve as witnesses to your baptism. Then, we’ll ask for God’s favor to come upon you as you are washed in the waters of baptism.
On Sunday, we herald in the third week of Advent with Advent Lessons and Carols during 10:00 a.m. worship. Come, bring neighbors, friends and family as we recollect the story of our salvation history as promised to us in the waiting and watching for God in Christ to once again be born among us. Sing out the familiar hymns of Advent and rejoice. Christmas is near!
One final note, of sadness. Adelia Sue Walker, infant child to Seldon and April Walker died in utero just before Thanksgiving. This Saturday, December 16th, the too short life of Adelia will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. at St. James’, 73 Culpeper Street, Warrenton, Virginia. Seldon and April would be most comforted by your presence if you’re able to attend the funeral. Please, keep April, Seldon, Adelia, and their extended family in your prayers as they move through this very difficult time. God blesses the Walker household through your love and compassion.