Monday, January 12, 2009

Baptismal Renewal

Sunday Sermon January 11

Mark 1:4-11

After a time of renewing the Baptismal Covenant with a service of Baptismal Renewal - Found in the United Methodist Book of Worship we looked to the Baptism of Jesus in Mark.

I will confess that I chopped up pieces of old papers and quotes for the sermon, and I apologize for the disjointedness of it all.

Here is what I used in bits and pieces:

Sermon title: "Finishing School"

Sermon Notes:Acts 16:33 (New International Version)

33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Quotes for Ordination Papers


"Baptism is a sacrament of truth and holiness; and it is a sacrament, because it is the sign which directs us to God's revelation of eternal life and declares, not merely the Christian 'myth', but - the Word of God. It does not merely signify eternal reality, but is eternal reality." (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (London; Oxford University Press, 1933, p192)


(Understanding Baptism though the lens of Juergen Moltmann, as put together in a paper by unknown author)


"Christians become Christians by Baptism."


"As a gift of God baptism is the incorporation into Christ and the entry into the new covenant.[1] Immerses the baptized in the liberating death of Christ, it washes away their sins, it raises them to a new life in the power of the resurrection of Christ and it gives them a new ethical orientation.[2] Baptism is accompanied by the gift of the Holy Spirit so that the baptized find themselves fostered and guided by the Spirit.[3]"


'The baptism clearly is a sign for the repentance the forgiveness of sins"


"Baptism is differentiated from the process of receiving the Holy Spirit. In receiving the Spirit Christians are endowed with the power of God which makes them enter the realm of the spirit of God."


"They are endowed with the spirit, they bear it and they are expected to do his holy work in the world they live in."


"Being baptized is part of the comprehensive process"


(- Class notes from Theodore Runyon - Theology of the Church and Sacraments -)

(Responding to Barth and Moltmann)

"Baptism is three factors 1) call of God, 2) relation to God, 3) response to God and by God"


"Qualitatively all baptism is infant baptism"

"Qualitatively all baptism is adult baptism: It has as goal kingdom service and Christian maturity"



"Christ is the sacrament, who is the material means by which the Creator extends his blessing to all humankind."

[1] BEM par B1

[2] BEM par B2-4

[3] BEM par B 5



  1. What is the meaning and significance of each Sacrament?

The two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, are "outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace" (Offices of Instruction [Catechism]). Moreover, the Sacraments effect what they signify.

Baptism is not a status but instead a calling. It is a celebration of God's adoption. Baptism is about the call of God, the relationship to God of humanity, and the response of the individual to the call of God. Baptism is an amazing act of prevenient grace, that which we are unaware and yet surrounds us. Baptism is significant in that God has done something for the individual, not that the individual can do something for God. Baptism is a divine action. "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV). Further, it is the church's action in recognition and adopting responsibility in that divine action. Baptism lays the foundation for future responsibility and achievements, both with the baptized and with the congregation that is present. All baptism is infant baptism theologically, 'while we were yet helpless'. God calls us to relationship through the Holy Spirit, and restores the relationship through Jesus Christ. In our baptism we are incorporated with Christ in relationship with God. But, the relationship with God does not end with baptism, we need to continually renew that relationship, which is where the Lord's Supper can be of benefit in helping us on the way to being perfected in love for God and one another.

We cannot be perfected in love on our own. We need God's help. Outler writes, "[God] has given us certain means of obtaining his help. One of these is the Lord's Supper, which of his infinite mercy he hath given for this very end: that through this means we may be assisted to attain those blessings which he hath prepared for us; that we may obtain holiness on earth and everlasting glory in heaven." ("The New Creation", John Wesley's Sermons: An Anthology; Albert C. Outler, Richard P. Heitzenrater, Abingdon Press, 1987, p.505) Communion is a means of grace, the way in which God comes ever closer to us. We have to take action to recognize God's presence and seek to be more Christ-like in our behaviors. Christ himself is The Means of Grace, the one through whom the grace of God is given in totality, to all of creation, not just humans. All of creation can be changed as the members of the community share in the bread and the cup, as it transforms them from the inside to react to God, and act in the world. Communion, in the remembrance of Christ invites us to partake in the life and death of Christ, that our very living and dying may serve God as Christ served God. Each of the meanings of the Lord's Supper preserves an element of the shared life in God. As the Lord's Supper, the meal Jesus instituted with the Disciples, we have a covenantal meal, with the blood of the new covenant "given for you and for many, as the forgiveness of sins." When we participate in Communion we celebrate koinonia, fellowship, with one another and with God, through the common meal of the body of believers. In the Eucharist give thanksgiving, and blessing for all that God has done for us, particularly in the remembrance of Christ's death for us on the cross. During the Communion we begin the preparation for mission, taking provisions for the journey, reminded that we are sent out from the common gathering to be in the world for the sake of the Gospel. Communion helps us to realize the covenant nature of baptism and seals us further in the task of transforming the world through the work of the Holy Spirit co-mingled with our spirits.

Simply, Christians become Christians by Baptism. The great thing about God is that Baptism is not the only door into the Christian life. John Wesley reminds us of another method, that of Communion. He held that Communion is "a converting ordinance", that in the taking of the bread and the cup one can become a Christian and God's grace and mercy is imparted to the individual seeking after God in the coming to the table. We have tangible elements of the Sacraments, the water, the juice and the bread, and in each of them we take an inward vow to God, that changes us and mirrors itself into the world. 



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