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Serving, Sharing, and Seeking – Our Baptismal “Yes” to God

September 7, 2013

Jesus said, “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” 
(Matthew 21:28-31a)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:18-20)

I can relate well to the second son in the parable Jesus tells in Matthew 21. How easily I say “Yes” to God, but then find myself living a “No!” But Jesus’ parable is actually a story of hope, of course, because the first son said “No,” but then did “Yes.” It offers the wonderful promise of restoration, reconciliation, healing that a lived “Yes” brings.

What does it mean to live a life that says “Yes” to God?

Several times a year, we share together the Baptismal vows in a Service of Holy Baptism – the most recent being August 11, when we had the joy of Baptizing Jason Gosselin. The threefold affirmation in these vows gives us the answer.

In the Service, each Baptismal candidate is asked:
Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Saviour?
Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Do you promise to obey him as your Lord?

The response each candidate is invited to give to each question is, “I do.” A “Yes” life is one that lives this threefold affirmation out. 

After the Creed in the Baptismal Service, when the whole congregation has the opportunity to say “Yes” afresh to God, what that living out of a “Yes” life looks like is set forth in greater detail. 

It is “Yes” to a life of fellowship with God, and the family of God, continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers; persevering in resisting evil and, whenever we fall into sin, repenting and returning to the Lord, to receive his embrace, as the Prodigal Son received the embrace of the Father.

It is “Yes” to what is sometimes called Baptismal ministry – because it is the calling of all the Baptized, flowing from our Baptismal vows – a life of embodying the Good News of God in Christ; seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbour as ourselves; and striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. 

But all of this, as the Service reminds us, requires God’s help, God’s empowerment – who even when we say “No,” draws us and stirs us to “Yes;” who welcomes our “Yes” actions whenever we offer them; who is ever active in our lives. It requires our being immersed in very life of God. As Matthew 28 says, we are Baptized into the Name of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ life is in us, and now we live in him – we are new creations though him. And so we live and spread God’s love, making a difference in the world – in our families, at work, and in our neighbourhood and beyond. 

This Fall at St. Paul’s there are many opportunities to live out a “Yes” to God. There is the opportunity to live a “Yes” by serving in areas of ministry as varied as partnering with youth to reaching out to those who are continuing to rebuild their lives from the flooding in June. We’ll be especially remembering the different ministries we have the opportunity to share in at St. Paul’s on September 22. There is the opportunity to live a “Yes” by sharing the Good News of God’s love by inviting others to come with us to Sunday worship. We’ll be especially focussing on this opportunity on Back to Church Sunday on September 29. And there is the opportunity to live a “Yes” by seeking the face of God in a deepening relationship of intimacy with Jesus. We’ll be especially encouraging this seeking to go deeper in our discipleship through offering the Alpha Course, from October 2 to December 11, using the revised DVD’s from 2002 to 2006. 

I pray that all of us at St. Paul’s will serve and share and seek our Baptismal “Yes” to God together. How wonderfully exciting that will be!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is adapted from my “Incumbent’s Message” in the September issue of Living Waters. This same issue contains two articles about Back to Church Sunday, and two pages about the Alpha Course. You can also find information about Back to Church Sunday on my blog by clicking here.

The images in this posting above are of two Cross-shaped Baptismal Fonts, both from around the Fourth Century. The first is from the Ekatontapyliani Church in Greece, and the second from the Church in Shivta (Sobota) in the Negev. These Fonts also appear in the two videos embedded below, at 0:25 and 1:48, respectively.

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