September 12, 2010
Have you noticed it? Within the past week the atmosphere seems to have sent us a message: “Change is coming!” I woke up in the dark on Friday night with the image of a down comforter dancing in my head. Better than the wet blanket that has wrapped the nights for a long, hot summer.
I’m feeling a need for change in lots of places. Maybe it’s the calendar, with school starting again, and elections coming, and opportunities for summer vacations in the memory book. Maybe it’s the painful reminders of the tragedies of war and terrorism that turn our attention to the need for change.
Now, I’m sure that like me, you’ve heard from lots of helpful folk, “Change begins with YOU.” Seems right to me: If we’re going to change, we need to get started. And if I stand that “WE” on its head it looks a lot like “ME.” I know that the pile of wonderful stuff in my basement won’t get sorted out, or used up, or thrown away unless I make a renewed commitment to taking care of it. Change takes renewed commitment.
We know that our attitudes about race and diversity won’t grow unless we take some fresh steps to see things differently. You know, “If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting…” and there comes a point where that’s not really right, not what God is calling us to. So change – any kind of change – takes a fresh commitment. And here in Seekers Church we want to be intentional about this basic bit of human nature.
This Sunday we begin our annual season of recommitment. Annual recommitment is a key element in the life of Seekers Church, maintaining a tradition of the Church of the Saviour begun with the initial commitment of founding members in 1947. This year “Recommitment Sunday” will be the third Sunday of October, the 17th.
Each year we are invited to renew our commitment to Christ and to the Seekers Church in a conscious and intentional way. In Seekers, God’s call and our commitments are linked together. Every choice you make, every call you answer changes all of us!
One special choice that we make is the choice to be baptized, to acknowledge that we are conscious parts of God’s creation, that we accept a place in that creation as part of the Body of Christ. God has accepted us and loves us from the beginning. For me, baptism is a sign of my acceptance of God’s covenant.
In our School of Christian Living this term we’re having a class on “covenant” in the Bible. I’m looking forward to our conversation about the way baptism is a covenant, but we’ll have to wait to see how that turns out.
I’ve already seen, in just the first week of the class, that recommitment is an important part of keeping a covenant. And it helps to make that recommitment in the presence of community.
So … today we’re going to reaffirm the baptism of Vincent Shepherd. We started to do this back in June, but couldn’t get everyone together on the same Sunday. I think reaffirming Vincent’s baptism on this first this Sunday of our recommitment season is a fine way for us to enter this time of preparation for reaffirming our own commitment to God’s covenant with us, expressed for many of us through this community.
Vincent, will you come forward? … Would Pat, Trish, Jean, Josh and Jake join Vincent here? Vincent has asked these Seekers to stand close with him as he reaffirms this core commitment.
Vincent has come to a place on his spiritual journey where he is ready reaffirm his baptism into the Body of Christ. As we stand with him at this time of commitment, let us recall the meaning of baptism. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with the living Body of Christ.
When we are baptized we enter into a new relationship with the God who is Creator, Restorer and Sustainer of Life. It is a relationship of knowing God in deeper, more intimate ways, and of being known by God in loving ways we have never imagined. Although we may deny it or ignore it, this loving relationship is there from baptism forward. Sometimes it is important for each of us to reclaim the power of God’s ongoing love of us, to renew the covenant that began when we were baptized. For Vincent, that moment is now.
Vincent, will you share with us a few words about what this reaffirmation of you baptism signifies for you? What do you hope this reaffirmation of baptism will renew–make fresh and alive–in you/in Vincent? What does baptism help us let go of and what does it help us take hold of?
I invite those of you who are standing with Vincent this morning to share any brief reflections on Vincent’s baptism: What do you hope this reaffirmation of baptism will renew in Vincent? What does baptism help us let go of and what does it help us take hold of?
<Others Share – Trish, Jean, Josh and Jake>
Thanks. Truly, we are the body of Christ and individually members of it. Jesus said: “Unless we are born anew, we cannot see the reign of God; unless we are born of water and the Spirit, we cannot enter into God’s new order.”
Paul the apostle said: “All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into Christ’s death. We were buried therefore with Christ by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, to the glory of God, we too might walk in newness of life.” For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Vincent, do you affirm that you are part of the Body of Christ?
Vincent: I do.
And as the Seekers Church, this small expression of the Body of Christ, will we walk with Vincent on the Way, welcoming him into our life together as followers of the Risen Christ?
All: We will!
Vincent Shepherd, we affirm that you are a follower of Jesus, who is the Christ. We invite you to journey with us as we nurture our relationship with God; care for every part of God’s creation; foster justice and are in solidarity with those in need; work to end all war, and violence, and discord; and respond joyfully as we are called by God, freely giving our selves as Christ shows us the way.
Let us pray for Vincent, who has affirmed his baptism in our presence today:
Holy One, Holy Three, you have filled the world with joy by giving us the gift of Jesus. As we anoint Vincent with this water, we pray that you will bless him as a part of your eternal Body. Amen.
<Anoint Vincent with water>
Vincent, may this water remind you of the reality that God is with you, around you, within you, calling you to a life of knowing and doing God’s will. May you be filled with joy. May you never be ashamed to confess a personal faith in Christ. And may you be led to a place of deeper belonging as part of this community of faithful Christians.
Amen. And the people of God say … “AMEN!”
The time before Recommitment Sunday is an opportunity for all of us – recent arrivals, attenders, Members, and Stewards – to review our commitment to God and to Seekers Church.
This morning the SLT has distributed a handout with some suggestions for you to work with during the next several weeks. This year, as you reflect on the call of Seekers Church and our commitment statements, we invite you to ask yourself:
- What am I being called to offer to God and God’s creation?
- How can being a part of Seekers Church support my response to God’s call?
- What do I need from and through this community in order to deepen my commitment to Christ?
Once you are ready to renew your commitment here, please sign our membership commitment book, the record of all Members and Stewards of Seekers Church since we began as a separate community in 1976.
From now through Recommitment Sunday one of us on the Servant Leadership team will have the book in the kitchen after worship and be available to answer questions.