memorial day, baptism, and God’s big plan…

IMG_3249theUletterUthe photo is fuzzy and poorly constructed, just a cellphone zoom from behind my guitar in the Praise Band. But it tells an important story about community and faith.

Rebekah is baptizing an infant (Violet Elizabeth Vargo). In the tradition of covenant, baptism is a sign both of God’s promises to us and our promises to God. The faith community is not merely looking on; we all made promises too. We promised to encourage Violet, and her parents, and to live out the story of redemption as she watches, listens, learns and grows.

GOD’S BIG PLAN: Between services we talked a little about this idea of community in my “Everyday Christianity” Sunday-school class. We had all read through Acts this week, and some of the discussion hinged around the difference between having Jesus walking around as a physical presence, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus had remained “on Earth”, then “God With Us” would have been limited in time and space.

But God’s long-term plan has been more ambitious; it involves filling each disciple with God’s light, and life, and purpose. Our opportunity, then, as a community of Jesus-followers, is to actually be the presence of Jesus to one-another, and to the world where we live.

Memorial Day display at church

MEMORIAL DAY: I think Memorial Weekend is a great time to celebrate baptism, because baptism is an unmistakable symbol of freedom from every kind of tyranny, secured at such high cost.

Rebekah told the congregation the story of her uncle Pete, who was lost at sea during WW2 when his vessel, the Angelina, was blown out of the water in the North Atlantic by Nazi U-boats. Most of us have a story about a relative, or a friend, who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that the rest of us could live (and can continue to live) in freedom.

Of course, the best way we can say “thank you” is to live meaningful lives, lives that would make people like “Uncle Pete” glad that they laid it all on the line for their country, for their family, for you, and for me, lives characterized by gratitude and purpose, “real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).

TODAY: When my Everyday Christianity class completed our discussion of Acts, I reminded everyone of the story of “The Man of Macedonia” who pleaded with Paul and his friends to come over and share the Good News with them.

IMG_3245“During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to share the gospel with them.”

Then, this is what I said: “What is your Macedonia? What individuals, group, or category of people are waiting for you to live out loud the Greatest Story Ever Told. And, if you know who they are, are you clear about what kind of a story you would share? Do you have a story of faith worth taking to Macedonia?”

Peace and blessings – DEREK

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