We’re entering our last couple weeks together, and endings also make us think of beginnings, don’t they? They make us reminisce on how we’ve first met, and how much has changed.
That poises us perfectly to enter the Epiphany season, the season of dawning light, and especially this week’s lectionary story: the occasion of Jesus’ own baptism.
Yes, doesn’t it seem strange, that Jesus had to be baptized? I mean, he was JESUS. And how is that even a thing—isn’t baptism a Christian sacrament? What was it doing there as a Jewish ritual, long before the Christian church was a thing?
One of the spirited and not entirely resolved conversations we have had as a church over the last few years is about baptism and membership. In our bylaws, they are conjoined: you cannot become a formal member of First Church unless you are baptized. In days of yore this wasn’t a real problem—in the days of civil religion, especially in Somerville when everyone was either mainline Protestant or Catholic, pretty much everyone was sprinkled as a baby.
But the religious landscape has changed considerably since then, and even dramatically over the last decade. Rev. Jeff and I have encountered many folks who were ready to make promises to our community, to support and use their spiritual gifts on behalf of FCS, but weren’t sure about their readiness to become baptized, for a variety of reasons.
I’ll be preaching about it all this Sunday: about what it means to be a member, what baptism as an adult might mean, and how they conflate—or not. I’ll be preaching about baptism not as an end-point, a graduation ceremony, but as a beginning—a new day, a fresh start, a surrender to rebirth.
Even better we’ll have three ACTUAL baptisms! Kids Sadhbh and Seamus McCrea, together with their mom Sara, will all receive the sacrament of baptism in worship.
Polly H is our able liturgist. Jeff prays with us! Greg and choir bring us beautiful music from Sweet Honey in the Rock.