Sisters and Brothers,
This week for our devotions we are going to reflect upon the Baptismal and Affirmation of Baptism promise in response to God’s covenant of grace with us. Below are the words from the “Evangelical Lutheran Worship” Affirmation of Baptism rite (page 236)
You have made public profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and
to strive for justice and peace in all the earth?
Today I am looking at the first promise, “To live among God’s faithful people.”
Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-28, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” In the body of Christ we are made one. Each with our own gifts and passion. Each one needed. Each one called into a community of love in Jesus’ name.
I am reminded of a story I heard years ago. A man frustrated with the behavior of the people in the church sent his pastor a letter informing her that he was no longer going to come to church because of all the hypocrisy. Instead, he was going to worship God in truth on his own. He also proclaimed that he didn’t need all those sinful people bringing him down.
The pastor called the man and asked if it would be possible if she could visit. “Certainly,” the man replied, “but you are not going to change my mind!” So, that Friday they had supper together and they had a wonderful time. But, not once did she mention to the man about coming back to church. After dinner, they sat on either side of the fireplace and drank coffee as they watched the fire. The man was getting uncomfortable waiting for the dreaded conversation.
Suddenly, the pastor stood up grabbed the tongs and pulled one log out of the fire and laid it on the hearth. The fire immediately grew smaller. While the log on the hearth smoldered. They both sat drinking their coffee, quietly looking at the log until it went out completely. The pastor stood up again and, taking the tongs, she picked up the log and laid it back on the fire. Again, the log caught on fire and the whole fire grew brighter. She thanked the man for the pleasant evening, excused herself, and went home.
That Sunday morning the man was back in church with all the other saints.
Loving God, pour out upon us your one and unifying Spirit, and awaken in every confession of the whole church a holy hunger and thirst for unity in you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.