Teaching confirmation last week, I told our students that Jesus’ baptism by John was not a sign of repentance of sin, but an ordination into ministry. Baptism is a multifaceted experience for Christians that needs to be lifted up in various ways for us to see the beauty and wonder of this gift from God.
Barbara Brown Taylor writes this about baptism connecting all God’s people together, both ordained and laity.
What we have in common is our baptism, that turning point in each of our lives when we were received into the household of God and charged to confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share in his eternal priesthood. That last phrase is crucial. Our baptism are our ordinations, the moments at which we are set apart as God’s people to share Christ’s ministry, whether or not we wear clerical collars around our necks. The instant we rise dripping from the waters of baptism and the sign of the cross is made upon our foreheads, we are marked as Christ’s own forever. (The Preaching Life, p. 30)
Our baptism is our call into ministry. We all have a place to serve in God’s family and God’s world. Through baptism, the Holy Spirit is placed within us to be a burning ember of power and life. To discover our place can be a challenge in the free-market society we have. There are so many options from which to choose. Yet God has given the Holy Spirit to guide, nudge, empower, coax and affirm our direction in life. The community of faith and our inner voices become crucial in the discovery process.
Luther Seminary has a process called the Dependable Strengths Articulation Process which helps congregations and individuals discover their calling for daily life. Resurrection Lutheran will be using this process on Saturday morning to help people discover how they can use their baptism fire for God’s glory.
Holy Spirit, ignite us with a passion to serve Jesus and his people.
Peter at Pentecost by artist Henry Martin
Last night I met with an amazing group of people who are passionate about using their gifts and strengths for God’s kingdom through Resurrection Lutheran. We are working as a team to prepare for a workshop titled “Discover Your Call – Uncovering Your Dependable Strengths” on November 4 and 5. The workshop will equip members of Resurrection for service in the world.
In preparation we watched part of a DVD from Luther Seminary that emphasized the concept that God came “down” to us in Jesus Christ, so we don’t need to “climb” up to God through our actions or good deeds. As one speaker said, “God does not need your good works. Your neighbor does.” God calls us to use our gifts and strengths “out” in the world for our neighbor. Thus the title of the DVD: “Down + Out: Where Grace Takes You.”
God has created each of us with dependable strengths. God “wires” each of us differently with different abilities, passions and dreams. Isolated each of us can do a little, but together as the church we can do so much more. The church is a movement of people, working together to bring healing and hope to a broken world. The church is not simple to gather in a building and feel good about ourselves. No, we are to go OUT.
We are to be God’s hands and feet, his voice and presence among the people we interact with each day. This is what Lutheran mean by the word: vocation or calling. God calls us to serve in the world.
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit pushed the disciples out into a confused, perplexed world. Peter was called to preach, but all the disciples had to use their gifts and strengths once the people responded to Peter’s message about Jesus. They each used their dependable strengths to lead the church out of Jerusalem and into every corner of the world.
What are your dependable strengths and how are you using them in your calling?
Lord Jesus, help me to discover my dependable strengths and to use them for service in your world.