“The heartbeat of this Christ-shaped community is Word and Sacraments. Consider the mission heartbeat of baptism. We don’t baptize our babies (of any age) and leave them at the font.
Baptismal ministry follows them into the world: to care and struggle for the schools in which they learn, to guard the communal values that shape them, to nurture their relationships, and to provide them with mentors. A vision of a well-lived life in society is baptismal mission.”’
“The Mission Table: Renewing Congregation and Community,” by Stephen Bouman
As people of the Christian faith, baptism is central to our lives together in Christ. Though we have varying theologies regarding when a person is to be baptized we are in agreement that baptism is essential to our walk with Jesus Christ. Through baptism, we enter into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through baptism, God claims us. We are no longer estranged from God but are brought back into a right relationship.
God is the one who is at work in baptism. We aren’t the ones who decide to initiate a relationship with God by being baptized. Rather, through Jesus Christ, all people are being gathered back together with God. (“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” – John 12:32.)
Baptism is at the heartbeat of a Christ-shaped community. As the author above stated, “We don’t…leave them at the font.” It is from our baptism that God gathers us together for the purpose of being sent out for the sake of the world. That is the shape of the Christian life. God brings us together, not for our benefit, but so that the world might come to the One, who brings reconciliation, hope and life eternal. Not to judge and condemn, but rather to proclaim and bear witness. (“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” – John 3:17.)
May we live out the baptismal mission for which we are sent and called!
The Rev. Keith Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.