From the Pastor – May ’22 – The Word
The New Testament records that Jesus was baptized by John, and he commanded his disciples to teach and baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the grace which baptism makes available is that of the atonement of Christ which makes possible our reconciliation with God. Baptism involves dying to sin, newness of life, union with Christ, receiving the Holy Spirit, and incorporation into Christ’s church. United Methodists affirm this understanding in their official documents of faith.
In both the Old and New Testaments, God enters into covenant relationship with God’s people. A covenant involves promises and responsibilities of both parties; it is instituted through a special ceremony and expressed by a distinguishing sign. By covenant God constituted a servant community of the people of Israel, promising to be their God and giving them the Law to make clear how they were to live. The circumcision of male infants is the sign of this covenant (Genesis 17:1-14; Exodus 24:1-12). In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God fulfilled the prophecy of a new covenant and called forth the church as a servant community. The baptism of infants and adults, both male and female, is the sign of this covenant.
Therefore, United Methodists identify our ritual for baptism as “The Services of the Baptismal Covenant” (The United Methodist Hymnal, pages 32-54). In baptism the church declares that it is bound in covenant to God; through baptism new persons are initiated into that covenant. The covenant connects God, the community of faith, and the person being baptized; all three are essential to the fulfillment of the baptismal covenant. The faithful grace of God initiates the covenant relationship and enables the community and the person to respond with faith.
This month, we will be celebrating the gift of God’s grace through a Baptismal ceremony. During the service, here are a few things that you will hear – and that we all need to be aware of. To the parents and sponsors of the person getting baptized, I will ask…
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,reject the evil powers of this world,and repent of your sin?
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives youto resist evil, injustice, and oppressionin whatever forms they present themselves?
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior,put your whole trust in his grace,and promise to serve him as your Lord,in union with the Church which Christ has openedto people of all ages, nations, and races?
To which the response should be a resounding, “I do”. I will also address the parents and sponsors of the candidate with…
Will you nurture this childin Christ’s holy Church,that by your teaching and example they may be guidedto accept God’s grace for themselves,to profess their faith openly,and to lead a Christian life?
Again…the answer should be, “I / we will”.
I am looking forward to performing my first baptism on a child. I am also looking forward to hearing the church reaffirm your covenants when I hear you all say the following words…
With God’s help we will proclaim the good newsand live according to the example of Christ.We will surround these personswith a community of love and forgiveness,that they may grow in their trust of God,and be found faithful in their service to others.We will pray for them,that they may be true discipleswho walk in the way that leads to life.
As the day of Baptism grows closer, know that I am praying for all of you – that you may be true disciples that walk in the way that leads to life.
A covenant is a promise made…
You are loved!
From the Pastor – April 2022
Those of you that have birthdays in April likely know that your birthstone is the diamond. Do you know why? Who decided what your birthstone would be? Where did it all begin? And why is your pastor talking about it in the newsletter?
For this month’s “Did you know?” we’re going to explore the origin of birthstones. I’d like to preface this by saying that the information I am sharing might not be accurate and that the topic is widely debated to this day. It’s incredibly confusing and there are buckets of sources who agree on virtually nothing.
Some experts believe that birthstones can be traced back to the Bible. In Exodus 28, Moses sets forth directions for making special garments for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. Specifically, the breastplate was to contain twelve precious gemstones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
In the Hebrew Bible version, a different gemstone is listed for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
In the Christian Bible version they are in the 1st row, Sardius(Carnelian), Topaz, Carbuncle (Garnet); in the 2nd row, Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, 3rd row is Ligure (Lapis Lazuli), Agate, Amethyst, and 4th row is Beryl (Aquamarine) Onyx, and Jasper.
There is also the list of foundation stones given in Revelation 21. These are said to correspond to the 12 zodiac signs.
The first century Jewish historian Josephus believed there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate (signifying the tribes of Israel, as described in the Book of Exodus), the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.
George Frederick Kunz argues that Josephus saw the breastplate of the Second Temple, not the one described in Exodus. St. Jerome, referencing Josephus, said the Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19–20) would be appropriate for Christians to use.
In 1937 Britain’s National Association of Goldsmiths created their own standardized list of birthstones. Modern lists of birthstones have little to do with either the breastplate or the Foundation Stones of Christianity.
Regardless of what stone represents your birth month – we can all be assured that in the eyes of the Father, we are all precious. We are worth so much more than gems and diamonds and the price was paid by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This month, we celebrate Easter and remember how Jesus triumphed over death through His resurrection from the grave. Our belief in this truth is vital to our faith and our lives are hinged on the resurrection. He paid the ultimate price for our salvation because He loves us.
…and I love you…and there is nothing you can do about it.
Pastor Toby Guill219-850-3768 (cell)