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Spiritual Growth

Branded by Baptism Against Identity Theft (Part 2)

By Glory E. Dharmaraj

Editor’s note: Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D., executive of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, looks at baptism in a four-part meditation during this Epiphany season. She turns to Theologian Kosuke Koyama for inspiration:

“With Jesus, the event of love comes first, then the explanation of it.”

Creating New Life in the Midst of Chaos

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

The Spirit of God that hovered over chaos creating new life can help us create new life in a world fragmented by narrow interpretations of racial, ethnic, national, sexual and class-based identities. During times of crisis, such as armed conflict, natural calamities and terrorist acts, there is a likelihood of co-option of communities into mere racial, ethnic, religious or ideological identities.

Healing and reconciliation are needed within the church. Recalling baptismal vows in this Epiphany season is to remember anew what it is to die with Jesus and to rise again into one body of Christ:

  • Baptism represents a means of grace.
  • Baptism is a doorway to sanctified life.
  • Baptism represents new birth in Christ.
  • Baptism signals regeneration.
  • Baptism is given to us; we cannot achieve it on our own.
  • Baptism means inclusion in God’s community.

Opening ourselves into the new identity of the body of Christ saves us from closed identities. It enables us to release the riches of our identities for the Kin-dom of God, where we build relationships among various groups and identities.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for accompanying us in our walk. Help us to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance into a new creation, a new earth and a new heaven of open possibilities. May God’s fullness of life for us and for everyone be our guiding principle this year and all years to come. Amen.


*Glory Dharmaraj, Ph.D., is an executive of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.
Last Updated: 04/16/2014

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