Narrative Lectionary for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year Three
August 13, 2017
Lessons: Psalm 46, Acts 2:37-42
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people recognize baptism not as only a singular event but as an entry into and a state of being that enables us to “walk wet” in this world as beloved children of our God.
Key Scripture: There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:4-5
How do baptism and stewardship go together, especially in this four-week series on the Sacraments? And why would anyone choose to preach and teach about baptism through a stewardship lens anyway? Good questions.
If we truly believe and practice that stewardship involves all aspects of our lives and is a 24/7/365 proposition, then stewardship has much to do with the Sacraments. In Karl Jacobson’s Working Preacher commentary for this week, he says, “Baptism, here through the lens of Psalm 46 and Acts 2, is not simply something that is done, it is a place; a refuge to which all are called, and re-called; named and re-named.”
Baptism is with us from the moment the water splashes over our head or immerses us with Jesus in a death like his. We come through the waters and rise to a new life in Christ. We are made a new creation bound by the promises we ourselves made and/or adults in our life made for us.
In baptism we are united with Christ and the whole people of God across time and space. This very ordinary substance (water) meets Word and becomes the means for God’s grace. As a Sacrament, Holy Baptism is not so much something we strive to fully understand and comprehend but rather a gift we are called to live into with the help of the Holy Spirit. It’s more a “heart” thing than a “head” thing, although we are certainly called to use our mind in embracing faithful discipleship and stewardship.
We are stewards of this gift of Baptism insomuch as we embrace—however imperfectly and haltingly—the life of discipleship that is walked by faith. We don’t take our baptism lightly or for granted, and we remember it daily and desire this gift for others.
Make this a day to remember and celebrate baptism, that “river whose streams make glad the city of God” as we walk wet and wildly loved into this beautiful yet still broken world. Go ahead; make a spectacular splash of stewardship in Christ’s holy name!
Begin worship with an Affirmation of Baptism and be sure to asperge the congregation with water from the font or a basin using evergreen branches. Sing joyful baptismal hymns. If you are able to celebrate a baptism today or next week, all the better! In your sending, remind those gathered to walk wet into the world as God’s beloved family to invite everyone into God’s waters of grace and mercy.
One way to be a steward of baptism is to value the importance of life-giving water in our everyday lives. Water is necessary for life; it is elemental both to life and faith, so take all opportunities to make connections with your youth. If your congregation takes part in a water charity, consider emphasizing that effort today. If not, why not consider having your youth lead a special initiative to help provide clean drinking water in honor and remembrance of baptism. Click here for a fairly comprehensive list of water charities.
Bring a super soaker, a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, maybe a back scrubber, big towel, shower cap, bath toys, etc. Talk with the children about what you need to take a bath. You can pull the various items out of a shopping bag or box if you want. Talk about how a bath gets us squeaky clean. How often do we need to take a bath? What about baptism? Sometimes people describe baptism as a bath. Do we need soap, shampoo, a shower cap (run through the whole list of bath time accoutrements) for baptism? Of course not! Do we need a super soaker for a baptism? Of course not! What do we need? We need water and word for this Sacrament–ordinary water and holy word. Jesus makes us clean without shampoo or soap. But, even though baptism happens once, we can remind ourselves of our baptism every time we wash our hands, wash our face, or splash in the water.
If a child has not yet been baptized, make sure they feel included by talking about how God is ready to meet us in the waters of baptism any time and loves us unceasingly at all points in our life. Assure them of their place and role in the community.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
Water is a precious gift. From the waters of baptism to the life-giving streams of water in our community, we should give thinks each day for the gift of water AND the gift of baptism. Consider this week how you can be a good steward of this precious gift of water.
Stewardship at Home
Take time this week at home to remember your baptism. Gather with your family or a small group of friends and share photos and memories. Light a candle, dip your fingers in water, and make the sign of the cross. Say a simple prayer of thanks this week every time you use water—both for the gift of your baptism and for the gift of life-giving water. Consider making a gift to a water charity your congregation sponsors in honor of your baptism this week.
Photos: Paul Varuni, Divine in the Daily, and Balint Deaki, Creative Commons. Thanks!
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