Greetings to everyone, we haven't communicated since last year. Therefore I pray that you have had a blessed and safe New Year. As we plunge into 2009 we enter the first Sunday after the Epiphany. (Epiphany- meaning the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah by the Wise men and indeed the world.) This is why we take theses few weeks of the new year remembering what the birth of Jesus means to us as well as what it means for us to be baptized and to live out our baptism through our Christian discipleship in the world.
Our scripture for reflection today is taken from Acts 19:1-7. This scripture speaks to us living as Christians in the world and ask the question into what then were we baptized?
19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.
19:2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
19:3 Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism."
19:4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus."
19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
19:6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied--19:7 altogether there were about twelve of them.
Paul speaks to some believers of Christ in our text, who were followers also of John the Baptist, and they were indeed baptized by John, but it was just a baptism of repentance and forgiveness. Many of us are baptized and think or believe that being baptized is enough to please God and earn our way into heaven. I would argue today that baptism is important and a relevant sacrament of the church to serve as an outward sign of an inward and bigger transformation of our entire selves.
Meaning that being baptized should be more about being filled with and renewed by the Holy Spirit than the outward use of water. Paul was telling these disciples that Johns baptism served the purpose of forgiving, but being baptized in the Holy Spirit not only forgives but invites indwelling of the Holy Spirit compelling all to go in service.
The last two verses of the text says that they began to get the Spirit and speak, pray and worship. Do you remember your baptism? Into what were you baptized? Were you just baptized because you were told to, or heard that you were supposed to be? Or once you were baptized was your life changed by the love of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God?
Brothers and Sisters I invite you to remember your baptism and think about how your life has been changed, and if it has not then I invite you to allow your life to be changed. If you have not been baptized then I encourage you to search yourself and inquire about being baptized both physically and spiritually, allowing your life to be changed by the empowering Holy Spirit.
I understand that this subject is complex, and it is to broad for me to cover in great detail so
for more on the subject of baptism feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-626-3626.
Until next time be well, Pastor J