A Word from Laura: Why Baptism?

Our nation may be on the brink of an unsanctioned war, and you’re talking about what?

Baptism by Mark Jennings

I imagined the response if I led with the theme of “Baptism of the Lord,” this Sunday, January 12, in the liturgical year, yet the meaning of baptism remains focal for our upcoming worship.  This weekend, as our session and deacons gather on Saturday for a retreat, themed “Starting with Why,” we remember that no matter what’s happening in the world, for those who follow Jesus, baptism remains our starting point.

On Sunday, we’ll also observe the most distinctive way Presbyterians live out our baptism, as we ordain and install new and returning elders and deacons.  We’ll also give thanks for those who are rotating off session and the diaconate, some after two terms! Our officers will respond to questions of faith (see below) – questions that many of us have answered – as a way of expressing their call to leadership and deepening of the baptismal promises to live trusting in Jesus as the Christ.

It’s an opportunity for all of us to go deeper into the meaning of this sacrament for our lives and for our faith, to claim that if we believe we are God’s beloved children, just as Jesus was, we are also called to live as those who share God’s love.  And that if we live in that love, members of a larger human family created in God’s image, as people who claim Jesus is the One we look towards, we have to discern his Way when resolving the morality of a war.

So yes, on this Sunday, we’ll remember Jesus’s baptism as well as our own.  And we’ll give thanks for our shared baptismal call to go deeper in all kinds of matters of conscience and action, as well as for Westerners who lead us on this journey.

Giving thanks for each of you, and encouraging you as together we go deeper,

PS- Don’t miss an opportunity to go deeper at 9:45 this Sunday with Rev. Jennifer Butler, head of Faith in Public Life, as she speaks and invites reflection on the theme of her upcoming book, Christian principles for resisting tyranny.

Questions of Faith

The Moderator will ask the ordination/installation questions:

God has called you by the voice of the church to serve Jesus Christ in a special way. You know who we are and what we believe, and you understand the work for which you have been chosen.

Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of the world and Head of the church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? I do.

Do you accept the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s word to you? I do.

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God? I do and I will.

Will you fulfill your office in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture, and be continually guided by our Confessions? I will.

Will you be governed by our church’s polity, and will you abide by its discipline? Will you be a friend among your colleagues in ministry, working with them, subject to the ordering of God’s Word and Spirit? I will.

Do you promise to further the peace, unity and purity of the church. I do.

Will you govern the way you live, by following the Lord Jesus Christ, loving neighbors and working for the reconciliation of the world? I will.

Will you seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love? I will.

To the Elders:

Will you be a faithful elder, watching over the people, providing for their worship and instruction? Will you share in government and discipline, serving in governing bodies of the church, and in your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ? I will.

To the Deacons:

Will you be a faithful deacon, watching over the people, teaching charity, urging concern, directing the people’s help to the friendless and those in need? In your ministry will you try to show the love and justice of Jesus Christ? I will.

The Clerk of Session will say to the congregation:

Do we accept these persons as Elders and Deacons, chosen by God through the voice of this congregation, to lead us in the way of Jesus Christ, and do we agree to encourage them, to respect their decisions, and to follow as they guide us, serving Jesus Christ, who alone is the head of the church? We do.