A New Beginning
About the middle of January each year, people's new year resolve is starting to break down. Old habits and old ways die hard. The vows we make at baptism signal our promise to continue in the promises of God in Christ, and our resolve to change our old ways and old habits and to replace them with a new way of living.
In response to God's gifts poured out on us, we promise that we will...
God's Committed To Us
Yet, even here, our resolve fails us. We quickly find ourselves back where we started, wanting something different, but unable to become the new people we desire to become. I think that is why, confession and absolution are such a important part of our gatherings each week. We need to hear God's forgiveness in response to our selfishness, greed and meanness. We need to hear reassurance of God's unconditional love as the response to our faithless, loveless fear and self reliance. God's love for us, God's commitment to us, God's resolve for us bring about the real transformation of our lives and our world. At its heart, baptism is God’s promise and commitment to us in Christ Jesus. It’s that promise we hold on to and cling to in faith.
Living as God's children is not following a checklist, it's a relationship with God, through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit. We live by faith in the life giving Word of God. Yet, there are things to do, ways of living, where God has promised to meet us, and to use the process change us and to live and act through us for the sake of the people and world around us.
Support For Living Baptism
More than anything else, that is the purpose of this community of Jesus's disciples, it's reason for existing and the need it answers. It is here in this fellowship of God's people, that God speaks in the Word of scripture, comes to us in the bread and wine of the meal, announces God's forgiveness and love for the sake of Jesus' death and resurrection, and accompanies us through all the ups and downs of life, beginning to end and everything in between. This community exists for you, for your comfort, care and consolation. We worship, pray, study, talk so that you might know and grow into the fullness of God's love for you.
At the same time, we exist as a sign and foretaste of the new human community God is creating around Jesus. In other words, this community is a community that loves and serves all people, as Jesus loved; a community that strives for peace and justice in all the earth.
As a community, we get together, pool our resources, and look for ways we can love and serve the people around us. That's what we're doing with our food pantry that served more than 500 people this past year; that's what we're doing when we cook for homeless families at Ozanam Shelter or staying in the Interfaith Hospitality Network; that's what we're doing when we serve the servants working for Sandy Recovery; that's what we're doing when we collect gift cards, hats, gloves and coats; and when we give generously to the NJSynod or the ELCA or Lutheran Disaster or the fight against Malaria. By participating in the life and work of this community, God changes our hearts and our lives and through us, God is changing the world.
Your new year resolution may have failed already, but the promise and commitment of baptism God renews everyday. Your baptismal life starts fresh with each new day, and see what gifts God has given you in the people around you. These people too are God’s commitment to you and to this world, to walk with us in the paths God is leading us for the sake of the world in Jesus name.
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