Becoming Who We Are Meant To Be
- Sunday, January 14, 2018
- By Father Robin Ruder-Celiz
When you were baptized, did you notice anything different? For most of us the answer inevitably is no. We were either baptized as an infant. In many ways our baptism is like many other significant moments and changes in our lives, whether it be a birthday, getting married or even going on retreat, we may not necessarily feel older, feel differently about our significant other or even feel the benefits of a retreat right away. Turning 39 feels similar to turning 38. But over time, we realize that things are different. We are older, our relationships mature and the benefits of a retreat begin to make themselves known in other ways.
This is why I quite like the passage we read from Acts today. Paul essentially asking the disciples and those gathered if they feel different now. More specifically, did the disciples and those gathered know what was happening when they were baptized. Did they recognize the significance of their baptism? The answer, the logical answer that is given is essentially, “well yes, we were baptized by John with water.” Isn’t everyone baptized with water . . . ? Yes indeed, but Paul is pointing to something deeper, something more significant and profound in the lives of the People of God. Paul reminds them that baptism doesn’t stop with repentance or preparation for someone else, ie John’s baptism, but rather continues with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’s Baptism.
In Advent we learned from David Jacobson the difference between the two, John’s baptism prepares the People of God for the coming of the Promised One. Jesus’s baptism prepares and empowers the People of God for the work of the Church. Those areas and places we are called to serve by God in the world. We are reminded that our purpose as a church and a community of faith does not stop when we leave the front doors of the church, nor do we put aside our selves and our every day lives at the door when we enter. The church and our lives are connected. Because we live in the real world with real challenges and difficulties we are invited to bring those to church and place them before the Lord, for God, to do what God does best with them. We then take our selves and all that we are back into our work, home and other places we find ourselves living our lives.
Because of our baptism we are chosen and claimed by God, as one of God’s beloved, to do great things in the world.
When the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and said, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” That same Spirit descended upon us at our baptism and said, “You are my Son/Daughter, my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Before we do much, before we recognize any major change, God chose us and is already pleased with us.
All too often we may feel inadequate and wonder why me. Why am I chosen, why do I have to do this; can’t someone else go instead. Despite the many ways we may give in to self doubt, God is already pleased with us. What’s more is that we are not alone. We are never alone in that we are baptized into a community where we find support, strength and belonging. This is why it is so important that baptism take place in the context of our worship service. This is where the community gathers. This is where we all gather from all the places and circumstances that we have found ourselves in. This is where we gather, lay our burdens down, get renewed and sustained to be sent out once more where we are still God’s beloved and where God is still pleased with us.
Do you feel differently now? Do you recognize what has been going on with your baptism? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is alive and working in you and your life? You may not recognize it at first, but she is there. The Holy Spirit is alive in you and will use you to further the reign of God in ways you never thought possible. When you leave church today, pay attention to your surroundings, the people you meet and the situations you find yourself in. You never know, that conversation, that meeting, that place may be exactly where you need to be at that moment. If you are careful, you may even recognize and realize that this is exactly where you need to be and that this is God at work, doing what God does best.