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Spiritual Growth

Branded by Baptism Against Identity Theft (Part 4)

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.”

Part 4

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Jesus went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.
John 10:40-42

When Jesus is questioned about his identity as the Messiah and is rejected by leaders, he goes back to the banks of the River Jordan where he was baptized (John 10:40). It is a beautiful, poignant moment. He may have remembered the magnificent sight of the dove and the affirming voice of God:

“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

It is time for us symbolically and in memory to go back to our baptisms and renew the baptismal vows. We are a water-washed and Spirit-born people. Let us avoid identity theft by lesser loyalties. Let us walk back to reclaim our baptismal identity. Let us be part of the ongoing work of the Spirit in participating in the new creation of a transformed world.

Litany:

A Sacramental Walk Back to Our Baptismal Identity

Leader: In the dead winter of our theological disputes,
All: Let us take a sacramental walk back to our baptismal identity.

Leader: In the dead winter of our being that saps our emotional strength and moral resilience,

All:
Let us take a sacramental walk back to our baptismal identity.

Leader: In the midst of life’s demanding responsibilities and challenges,
All: Let us take a sacramental walk back to our baptismal identity.

Leader: Pilgrims within and pilgrims without, let us take a hallowed walk,
All: for it is our inheritance of the Spirit, the wealth of our well-being.

Leader: Co-traveler, will you share your travel experience in this journey?
All: Fellow traveler, can I hold your hand when needed on our way back?

Leader: Friends, let us hold each other up. It is right and wholesome to walk the walk that way with Christ’s strength.

All:
It is right and wholesome for us to strive to live into one baptized body. Amen.

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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