At Home in Christ and Community

November 14, 2017 | | Stewardship | baptism

Over the course of my ministry, I’ve had the chance to officiate many baptisms for infants, children, youth, and adults. Each time the words are spoken from the Baptismal Covenant, I’m reminded that the gift from God is a home in Christ and community.

“Brothers and sisters in Christ: through the Sacrament of Baptism

We are initiated into Christ’s holy church.

We are incorporated into God’s might acts of salvation

And given new birth through water and the Spirit.

All this is God’s gift, offered without price.”

One time a young woman named Marie started coming to church in the early Fall. She was working for a local university on a grant and didn’t know how long she would be employed. Having come from the Midwest to the East Coast, Marie didn’t know anyone. She worked alone in a small office, and lived alone in a small apartment. She felt like something was missing and earnestly sought community.

When Marie began worshipping at our church, she sat in the third row (obviously unaware of the unspoken Methodist rule of sitting as far back in the sanctuary as possible) all by herself. After the first few Sunday’s different people took turns sitting with her: an elderly woman who was a Stephen Minister, a couple who had children away from home in college, and another young adult from the university.

After a few months Marie came to talk with me. She was appreciative to receive the gift of community from worshipping with us, and she was surprise by a growing desire to be in relationship with God. She had not grown up in church, had never been baptized, and was raised by a mother who was anti-church. Marie had never been to church before because her mother had been wounded by church in her past. This left Marie with a lot of questions when she started coming to our church. We explored those questions together and even talked about how she would share with her mother that she was going to a church and wanted to be baptized.

When Marie’s mother came to visit, she joined her daughter for a church service. I could tell it was a difficult visit for her mother, but all the people who had become friends with Marie were very welcoming, going out of their way to make her mom feel at home. After the two week visit, Marie’s mom said to her daughter, “This is the right thing for you.” On subsequent visits, Marie’s mom would come to the church and volunteer in our library while Marie was at work. She also found the gift of community in Christ.

Marie had decided it was time to set a date for baptism. At first she was anxious about standing alone in front of the entire congregation. As we continued preparation for baptism, Marie grew comfortable knowing these people were her people; her church family. She had a home in Christ and community.

When Marie’s grant came to an end, she moved south for a new position where she again sought out and found a home in Christ and community in another part of the United Methodist connection.

“Brothers and sisters in Christ: through the Sacrament of Baptism

We are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

As we in Greater New Jersey prepare to dive deep into a season of “Water & Roots” you are encouraged to help connect those who are seeking to find a home in Christ and community. Find out more about Rediscovering Baptism: Water & Roots.

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