My sermon from Sunday, January 10th.
What is baptism? A baby comes to mind, all the family and sponsors dressed up and smiling, as the minister drips a little water on his or her head. The baby usually cries or fusses a little, we all read a liturgy together, pledging to help raise this child in the family of God. Some churches baptize people as adults instead, plunging them into a tank of water or submerging them in a river. Either way is fine since we only baptize with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of baptism is to show the world we are accepting Christ as our Savior. If we baptize a baby, we are welcoming him or her into the family of God. Baptism itself is simply a ceremony of identification with the Christian church. But the true meaning of baptism is rebirth, being born again in the presence of Jesus, and accepting His resurrection for the life-changing thing that it is.
I remember awhile back, Pastor Brian Dixon gave a sermon on baptism, and during the sermon, he presented a bowl of river rocks and invited each congregant to come up and take a rock to remind each of us of our baptism. I took a shiny black rock and listened to the rest of the sermon instructing us to use this rock to remind us of our own baptisms.
I kept that rock in my pocket for months. Each time I felt the rock, or became aware of its existence, I made to sure thank God for something. I was reminded that God is the rock I build my life upon. God is my foundation, and all things come from Him. I would thank Him for my family, friends, coworkers, and all the blessings He brings into my life.
“Thank you for this beautiful day, God!” I would think as I felt the rock. Sometimes I would hold it in my hands as I prayed and I would thank God for giving me this rock so that I thought of Him more often. When life would get chaotic and my brain was thinking of a million things at once, all I had to do was hold the rock and I could stop and thank God for any and all things. The rock became almost like a security blanket.
Then, one day as I got ready for work, I stopped to grab my rock and my lip balm to put them in my pocket, and the rock was gone. I looked all over, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the laundry room. Where did I put my rock? I had to go to work without it.
That night I continued searching for my rock, but it was gone. I questioned my husband and children if they had seen it. But alas, the rock was nowhere to be found. I told my wise friend that I had lost my rock, and she said to me, “Maybe its because you don’t need it anymore.”
God gives, and God takes away. I thought about this for awhile. Its true, I was thinking about God on a regular basis, and every time I noticed my rock was missing from its place, I would still thank God for something. My thanking God had become a habit. But a good habit at that! I may have not had the physical reminder, but I still remembered to thank God for everything in my life.
I realized that I truly didn’t need the rock to have God in my life. And I realized that the rock helped me become a better person by helping me to remember that God is with me in all things. When I feel God in my life every day, I am more at peace. I know that God is in me, and I am in God. I know that God works all things together for my good. I trust God to take care of me, and in this trust I have learned to have less fear of the world and the circumstances of life.
God tells us to ask Him for everything we need, and He will provide. I worry less about the future and take the time to experience the present. I ask God for wisdom and knowledge when I have a problem, and He gives me what I need.
When I strive to see the world through God’s eyes, its an entirely different place. I tend to look for the good in people instead of the negative. I see the beauty of nature which is God’s creation. I understand that God’s will prevails over humankind, and no matter what I do, God loves me the same. I know how much I love my children, even when they make mistakes, and to think that God loves us more than we love our children is amazing. I am one of those children, and so are you. God loves us no matter what we do. When we place our trust in our Father, He always takes care of us. He is the ultimate definition of love. God promises us all these things when we become His children, and so much more.
So if any of you want to become more aware of God in your life, I invite you to find some thing that makes you think of God. Think of it as continuing your baptism.