Several years ago another pastor in my annual conference invited me to baptize her child. This young woman had been a youth in one of the churches I had served years earlier. She had cone on to college and seminary and was now one of my colleagues in ministry. She scheduled the baptism for Sunday evening so both of the small, rural congregations she served, along with her family and many friends, could attend.
She had adopted Daniel from Peru, and the process had been long and difficult. This history of struggle just seemed to make the delight of Daniel's baptism even more joyous. That same day Bishop Peter Storey from South Africa had come into town to teach for a continuing education event I was directing. I invited him to come with me that evening.
I had received directions to the church, but I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I drove around on unfamiliar backroads for what seemed to be an eternity. Neither Bishop Storey nor my wife, Margaret, seemed overly concerned. I was getting frantic.
The church was so far out in the country, and I had driven around lost for so long that we arrived just in time for the baptism. As I led the service, looking out on the sea of faces in that little country church, it struck me that this is what the community of faith is all about.
We are all God's children by adoption, as the writer of Ephesians puts it. Our country of origin, our skin color, our native language, and the place on earth we call home make no difference. Baptism makes siblings of us all.
Loving God, I thank you that you have brought me and all your beloved children into your adopted family. Amen.
These scriptures chosen to mark the new year give us a panorama of perspectives, from Ecclesiastes as a poetic musing on how life is measured out in seasons, to the vision in Revelation of what we commonly consider the end of time itself. Psalm 8 asks what the role is for humans in God’s magnificent creation. At the core of these scriptures is a strong sense of God’s presence and loving steadfastness in which we can rest.
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13. In what season of life do you find yourself? What are you praying for in this season?
Read Psalm 8. How do you feel when you read the psalmist’s words that God has created humans “a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5)?
Read Revelation 21:1-6a. How is the vision of a new heaven and new earth described here good news for you? What do you see God making new in the world around you?
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