First, We Must BlessRead Now
Becoming Beloved CommunityRead Now
“Becoming Beloved Community”
Isaiah 9.1-4 and 1 Corinthians 1.10-18
The Rev. Hal Chorpenning, Plymouth Congregational UCC
Fort Collins, Colorado
January 22, 2023
What brings you here today? What brings you to worship this morning in our pews or in our virtual balcony? Take a moment to see how you might answer that question. There isn’t a right or wrong answer.
Perhaps you are here because it’s a habit (a good one, I might add). It’s something you’ve always done and will continue to do. Maybe you are hoping for some insight that will help you through the coming week. It could be that you are here because you are in need of prayer and healing and wholeness. I would imagine that some of us are here to help, whether you are a deacon or you want to pray for others or want to provide a warm welcome for our visitors and members. Maybe some of you are here today because you want to be part of an intergenerational community. Others might be here because they are committed to following Jesus and bringing about God’s realm here and now and still unfolding.
In 2020 and 2021, our Strategic Planning Team came up with this purpose for our plan:
Plymouth’s purpose for the next three to five years is to embody beloved community with God, each other, and our neighbors. We will enhance our communications and deepen engagement within the church. We will be a visible force for social, racial, and environmental justice. This focus will help Plymouth’s already vibrant community look to the future and grow in numbers and in spirit.
“Embody Beloved Community.” Those are words that are rich with meaning. We embody it, not just with our minds or prayers or ideas. We enflesh the concept with our bodies and our selves. So, what does Beloved Community mean?
The term was coined about 125 years ago by Josiah Royce, an American philosopher who wrote, “My life means nothing, either theoretically or practically, unless I am a member of a community.” Royce observed that, besides the actual communities we experience on a daily basis, there was also an ideal “beloved community” made up of all those who would be dedicated fully to the cause of loyalty, truth, and reality itself. Royce founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a movement that was later joined by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [from rejoicingspirits.org]
The kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed — where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, where we create new community based on following God and not Caesar or family or tribe or clan, where the poor are blessed and those who mourn are comforted — that is at the heart of Beloved Community. We should never forget that Dr. King was a theologian and a preacher as well as the leader of the Civil Rights struggle. Part of his prophetic word involves creating Beloved Community that is grounded in the idea of reconciliation.
I love big ideas like Beloved Community. But they need to be brought down to earth to be useful. Where does the rubber meet the road? Where do lofty concepts get put into the practice of everyday life? That is where things get interesting, because the interaction of human beings in community, especially when we attempt to form Beloved Community, encounter stress, difference of opinion, self-interest, tribalism (which may take the form of a generation or a particular perspective).
We can tell from Paul’s writing that the church in Corinth was struggling to keep Beloved Community cohesive. We hear from Chloe’s people that the unity of the Christian community was at risk. Some who were baptized were devoted to the person who baptized them (Cephas/Peter or Apollos or Paul himself), rather than to Christ. Even in the earliest generations as the church emerged from Judaism, there was dissention and disagreement, and Paul says they must be drawn back to the same mind and purpose.
That is a tall order for any church, because we human beings comprise the church, not saints who have reached the pinnacle of human perfection. Scripture says we’re a little lower than angels, but it fails define how much lower. It’s more like a group of people who start out with fine intentions who get a little squirrely along the way, just like Peter and Paul and Apollos. None of us is a Christ figure, but we are trying in the company of one another to live in the most Christlike ways we can. Does that mean we get it right? Sometimes. Often not. Do we put our personal comfort before our faith? I suspect we do. Do we let our egos get in the way of community? Yep. Do we consider our own self-interest before the interest of our sister and brother members? I think so. Do we let our fear of offending or hurting some keep us from speaking the truth in love? Yes, we do. I know that in every instance, I fall short, and I’m imagining that if you look honestly at your interactions with the humans who comprise this congregation, you might, too.
Here is some good news: None of us is called to be perfect. There is no perfect Beloved Community, rather a collection of people doing their best, challenging themselves to live differently, helping others in ways the culture at large won’t, caring for the people who form this community and for God’s world as a whole. I see so many of you providing concrete acts of caring, working for justice, doing behind-the-scenes work that make Beloved Community a possibility that we strive for. Well done. God bless you.
- - - - - -
Together, we have come through a horrific experience of pandemic and dramatic isolation. It has hurt us as individuals who grieve a world that is lost, and as we evolve as a community that has and will continue to be forced into living together differently.
I could never really relate to the Babylonian captivity of Judeans in the sixth century BC until living through the exile of the Covid pandemic. We couldn’t see each other in person, we couldn’t hug, we couldn’t eat together, we couldn’t sing together, we couldn’t work together. We had effectively been exiled from one another. And like the destruction of the Temple, we were deprived of worship in this place, our spiritual home.
It is hard to come out of the fear, the exhaustion, the grief, and the trauma of the pandemic. Together, we have been through a lot. Hear what Isaiah had to say to the exiles, long before their release: “There will be no gloom for those who were in anguish….The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light and on those who lived in a land of deep darkness, upon them the light has shined.” That is a beautiful vision of the future, but it doesn’t take into account that the exiles had to go through a liminal space, a threshold between what was and what is yet to become. And like a rough landing at DIA, there is always some turbulence in the threshold space between where we are and where we will land.
We are in such a threshold time, my beloved friends. We see glimmers of what is up ahead, but we still feel the weight of what we have come through. Let’s take a moment to acknowledge what we have come through together, and let us ask God to be our seatbelt in times of turbulence. <pause>
How have you been able to connect with your Beloved Community at Plymouth over the past three years? I know that some of our folks are dedicated worshippers in our virtual balcony! Others have opted out of worship, and some have found other communities in which to practice their faith. And we have had some dear ones who have died or moved away. At the same time, a lot of new folks are finding a spiritual home at Plymouth. We are embodying church in very different ways that we did only a few years ago.
And there are more changes on the way in our congregation. In the coming months we are going to have a big shift in our pastoral staff. JT will be finishing up his interim work on February 28 after serving with us for 16 months. I hear appreciation from you about JT’s preaching and his way of being with you, for his work on helping to get our Ministry Match program set up. And I can tell you that his ministry here has meant a lot to me and to members of the staff who have come to love him as a colleague and a friend. Also on February 28, we will be saying farewell and happy retirement to Jane Anne Ferguson who has been our associate minister for the past seven years (and several months as sabbatical interim before that). Jane Anne’s wonderful voice in the pulpit and in Christian Formation will be dearly missed. It is really important for the congregation to celebrate the ministry of these two servants of God who have worked in our midst so effectively, and that will happen in February, so stay tuned. An important part of threshold time is saying goodbye well.
And next Sunday you will hear a new voice from the pulpit! Marta Fioriti is the candidate our Search Committee is putting forward to become our settled associate minister. I’m excited to have you meet her next weekend! I invite you to keep Marta in prayers for this coming weekend. And important part of threshold time is saying hello well.
This big, simultaneous pastoral transition is going to be difficult for many of us. It’s going to be a challenging time for our staff and for me, too. We’re likely to hold the grief of saying goodbye to JT and Jane Anne simultaneously with the excitement of welcoming Marta. It is perfectly okay to feel a mix of emotions. That’s also in the nature of threshold times.
And it’s really important that we remember the message of Chloe’s community: this isn’t JT’s church or Jane Anne’s church or Hal’s church or Marta’s church. It has always been and will continue to be the church of Jesus Christ.
This threshold also presents all of us with the opportunity to hone our Beloved Community skills, sharing with one another in all the ways we can, being open, available, and vulnerable to all those we can, to practice self-giving love with one another, to be generous in spirit both with ourselves and with one another.
Beloved Community isn’t easy. It isn’t automatic. It has very little in common with consumer culture fixed on “me” and “mine.” It takes practice. I’m going to leave you this morning with a quote from Rumi, the Sufi mystic of the 13th century. I think it relates well to the ways we work together to embody Beloved Community. He said, “To find the Beloved, you must become the Beloved.”
May it be so. Amen.
© 2023 Hal Chorpenning, all rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com for permission to reprint, which will typically be granted for non-profit uses.
Moving Toward LifeRead Now
Moving Toward Life
Joel 2.28-29; Acts 2.14-18
Second Sunday in Epiphany
Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson
Our scriptures texts today come from two vastly different books separated chronologically by at least three centuries, the Hebrew scriptures book, Joel and the New Testament book, the Acts of the Apostles. However, the prophetic writer of Joel in around 250 BCE and the gospel writer, Luke, who also wrote the book of Acts, most likely between 70 and 90 CE, were both addressing communities in profound change. The small agrarian community of Joel had just experienced an extensive locust plague interpreted in those times as harbinger of the last days before the cataclysmic coming of the Lord. They were most likely enduring food shortages, attacks by Phoenician and Greek slave traders, and a great deal of fear for their survival. Joel’s prophetic poetry speaks to them of a past time of separation from God and then the coming of the time when God would bring abundance and would pour out God’s Spirit upon them.
After [those catastrophic times] I, [the Holy One,] will pour out my spirit upon everyone; your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days, I will also pour out my spirit on the male and female slaves.
Bible, Common English. CEB Common English Bible with Apocrypha - eBook [ePub] (Kindle Locations 35739-35740).
The second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles is more familiar to us. It is the story we read each year on Pentecost Sunday fifty days after Easter, the story God’s gift of the Holy Spirit upon his followers, a gift promised by Jesus. The power of God’s Spirit descends on the disciples and friends of Jesus who have been waiting fearfully together in Jerusalem for what was next after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Spiritual chaos wonderfully breaks loose as these faithful ones begin to speak the good news of Jesus to all the Jews from around the known world gathered in Jerusalem for the harvest festival of Pentecost. They are speaking in all the different languages of the visitors! How can this be? These people must be drunk! Yet Peter begins to preach reassuring the people of God’s presence and of the saving grace of Jesus.
Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, "Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren't drunk, as you suspect; after all, it's only nine o'clock in the morning! Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams. [And I would add to Peter’s list, our non-binary, gender fluid siblings will imagine the most amazing possibilities for new life.] [Upon all my people,] I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Bible, Common English. CEB Common English Bible with Apocrypha - eBook [ePub] (Kindle Locations 42293-42302).
This weekend we celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, the civil rights leader who galvanized the hearts, minds and actions of all those working particularly for the rights of our Black sisters and brothers from 1955 to his death by assassination in April 4,1968. Standing on the steps of Lincoln Memorial in DC on a hot August day in 1963 – yes, 60 years ago this summer – Dr. King called us to dream big with the Spirit for justice, love and the end of racism. We still work to answer that Spirit call. In 1968 he was about to launch the Poor People’s Campaign, radically acting and hoping to end poverty in our nation. But before he could launch this movement he was assassinated. Now just shy of 60 years later Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis have answered the Spirit’s call to end poverty in our nation by launching and co-chairing the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Inspired by these spiritual leaders and change agents, how will we dream big, bigger than we have before here at Plymouth for God’s realm of justice and love in the world? The people of Joel’s time were called to God’s dreams and visions in a time of extreme change. Peter and the other disciples and friends of Jesus were called to God’s dreams and visions in a time of extreme change at Pentecost. So was Dr. King. Dr. Barber and Dr. Theoharis have been called in our times of extreme change. How will we here at Plymouth answer Spirit’s timeless call to dream God’s dreams and share God’s new visions, to prophecy for justice and love?
The pastors got an email from one of our members this weekend sharing that the reputation Plymouth has in the Interfaith Council community of Fort Council is one of action and involvement in social justice. Thanks be to God! I am so grateful for this and for all of you on the frontlines, as well as those on the frontlines of caring for our community internally through Stephen Ministry, Congregation Visitors, leading in our Christian formation programs, caring for our building and numerous other gifts of volunteer time. We do well in frontline work.
What about our soul work? I believe, it is also time to up our soul work game in growth to keep pace with Spirit. This work does not focus on numbers of people or money, though eventually that can be part of the growth. I am talking growth and transformation within where we can encounter God’s visions and dreams that deepen our worship of God and makes God’s realm visible in the lives of people individually and collectively…..by Inviting, Transforming and Sending. (To quote our mission statement!) I believe it’s time to pay more attention to Transforming, to the transformation of our hearts and souls as people of God. Not so we can navel gaze, but so that we can up our dreaming game in Inviting and Sending.
In her book, Emergent Strategy, Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, adrienne maree brown, challenges those of us who aspire to be change agents in our world to move toward life by creating more possibilities. She writes "What we are all really asking…is how do we, who know the world needs to change, begin to practice being different?” [i] We know the world needs to change. We know as followers of Jesus, as seekers of truth and justice, that all creation is in a world of pain, to use an urban dictionary idiom. How do we practice being different in this world that needs healing change?
We listen. We each learn to listen to Spirit within. We learn to listen to Spirit together in community as She works in subtle ways through our frontline work inside and outside the church. Listening to God’s Holy Spirit may sound daunting to some, but I can assure you it is something we all can learn. And that each of us is consciously and unconsciously already listening. The fourth century desert father, Evagrius Ponticus, “wisely said, “If you want to know God, learn to know yourself first.”[ii] Twenty-first century author and spiritual director, Nancy L. Bieber writes, “When we avoid places in ourselves where fear dwells, we limit our knowing of ourselves and our freedom to become who we can be.”[iii] So first we listen to ourselves, our fears as well as our dreams. This is holy listening and God is with us here. This is not a mysterious, woo-woo process, it is a process of slowing down to be with our selves. To reflect, even daydream, as well as to meditate and pray. If individual fears grow overwhelming, there are many people to accompany us professionally, therapists, pastors, spiritual directors. And we accompany one another in lay pastoral care, in prayer and study groups, in coffee hour conversation. Spirit is always present guiding us. Listening to Spirit will lead us to our practices of being different so that we can BE God’s change in the world, live God’s dreams and visions.
Perhaps you are wondering about tangible ways a faith community can work to be different in our world. Let’s start with communication. We are church together in a contentious and duplicitous world. A world full of rumor, half-truths, triangulating gossip. How can we practice being different for change in this world? How do we practice more direct and transparent communication with one another when conflicts arise as a way of being different in our world? We are church together in a world where it has become okay to be harsh, even mean to one another in a disguised effort to be direct. This comes out particularly in written communication because we do not have to be face to face. How will we invite just and kind communication when times are tough in our community? Practicing different communication in our faith community would empower us to advance peace-filled communication as a difference in our world.
We live in a changing time of involvement as we have come out of the isolation of pandemic times. We are all re-evaluating how we want to spend our time and where. I recently spoke with a member of our church who worked for Volunteers of America. She told me how volunteer patterns are changing in every non-profit agency. People want to be involved in something vital and hands-on and often commit to one event at a time, rather than a series of board or committee meetings. How do we practice transforming our ways of inviting volunteers into meaningful, community building projects that will be life-giving? The days of filling boards and committees with warm bodies are gone.
We have made a step in this direction through our Ministry Match online survey. It has been enormously helpful in starting the conversations to get people involved with their gifts in Plymouth’s programs and outreach. If you haven’t taken Ministry Match, go to plymouthucc.org/ministrymatch. It will only takes 3-5 minutes of your time and you will learn where you can best get engaged at Plymouth and how to get more information on those places of connection. Getting in engaged is also a way to do deeper into connecting within and listening to Spirit.
These are two ways to jump start deeper transformation in our community as we listen deeply to Spirit, in the quietness of our hearts, in the dialogue of study groups, here in worship, as we care for one another and fellowship together, as we serve one another and serve our neighbors in the world. Spirit is already revealing in our minds, in our imaginations and hearts, new dreams and visions for making the realm of God that Jesus preached and lived visible and viable here and now.
If we listen, we will be led! Even – especially - when we think we do not have enough people, money, resources, blah, blah, blah, I could go on and on. When we think there is not enough, our ears can be blocked to Spirit’s call and abundance. But we must keep listening! We may not see a way forward immediately, but I can assure you that listening together to God, a way will be made. Let us stop reacting against this painful, recent past that we have just all been through together in our pandemic, divisive times and be present to the fertility and fecundity of God’s emerging future for our beloved community.
Listening to the Spirit’s call we will focus on what is possible, not what is wrong. Listening we will focus on forgiveness and grace with one another. Listening we will dream holy dreams and see visions of God’s new life like Drs. King, Barber and Theoharis. We will all be prophets of holy change in a world that so needs the justice and love of God. My dear friends of God, the Holy Spirit is being poured out upon us all, now, always and forever! May we listen, pay attention, and receive Spirit’s abundance and blessings. Amen and Amen.
©The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, 2023 and beyond. May only be reprinted with permission.
[i] adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy, Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, (AK Press, Chico, CA: 2017, 164).
[ii] Nancy L. Bieber, Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment, The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way, (Skylight Paths Publishing, Nashville, TN: 2016, 32.)
Remember Your BaptismRead Now
Remember Your Baptism
A sermon related to Matt 3:13-17
Rev. J.T. Smiedendorf
That baptism represents an immersion, a rebirth, into the living, loving Way of Jesus.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw God’s Spirit descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
For the Word of God in Scripture
For the Word of God among us
For the Word of God within us
Thanks be to God
Inspired by the presence of water in this morning's scripture story, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite stories of water.
In southwestern South Dakota there is a First Nation reservation called Pine Ridge, the home of the Oglala band of the Lakota Nation. On my first visit there a number of years ago, I was privileged to meet Duane, a middle-aged Lakota man. As a part of our day’s work with Re-Member, a nonprofit group on the reservation started by some UCC people in Michigan, we were sent to help Duane garden.
But Duane was no ordinary gardener.
He had three large gardens that covered more than an acre. And the garden’s produce of beans, squash, corn, and melons was meant for the elders in the nearby village of Porcupine. Knowing the scarcity and the preciousness of water on the reservation, Duane had written a successful grant proposal to purchase drip irrigation equipment. We were there to help lay it out and to plant. Duane showed me how it worked and how to repair it. I even planted corn for the first time, a novelty for a city kid like me.
Duane was utilizing the gift of water, wisely, for the greater good and life of the Lakota people.
Our sacred story of water this morning comes from Matthew’s early Christian community.
For Matthew, the story of Jesus’ baptism certainly helps accomplish his purpose of showing Jesus as a true Jewish messianic leader. Jesus, like so many Jewish leaders and the Jewish people before, entered the waters of the Jordan River and was deeply affirmed by God’s Presence there in an experience of the Holy Spirit. The esteemed Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann noted that this scene is a kind of endorsement reminiscent of those of the Davidic kings and that the Matthew story affirms God's blessing for the coming rule of Jesus.
It is that coming rule of Jesus or the Realm of God that Jesus proclaimed that is the deeper purpose of baptism. Baptism is a kind of initiation and immersion into that Divine Realm, a transformation into a new way of life where one experiences one’s true Divine affirmation and blessing and, like Jesus, leads a life guided and sustained by Spirit that serves Life, a life of love and integrity and service and generosity and community. Indeed, in Luke’s version of this story, John the Baptist’s call was to prepare for a new age, to become part of a movement to prepare the way for it, and when people asked, ‘What then should we do?’ John said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ he told tax collectors to collect no more than was proper and soldiers to give up their racket of extortion and simply do their jobs.
Baptism in the water of the Jordan certainly celebrated and sealed this new way of living for the individual, but it clearly had a goal of changing society, redeeming it from its ills of selfishness, poverty, violence, and corruption. John’s invitation called people to prepare the way of God by changing one’s life, preparing the way within, seeing and acting differently, living in the world and with others differently. Baptism meant there would be relational and social change leading toward the fullness of God’s Realm and that we each would need to choose, to act to immerse ourselves in this new reality.
Do you remember your baptism?
I don't remember my baptism in late 1963 because I grew up in a family in the Methodist Church and Methodists do infant baptism. While I do appreciate and truly love the welcome and the blessing that comes with celebrating a new life in our community through infant baptism, baptizing babies does miss a profound adult experience of consciously choosing faith not just in Jesus and in the God of Jesus, but in living into the Way of Jesus and toward the vision of the Beloved Community. Baptism is meant not only to be a profound reorientation of the inner world, but to be a profoundly countercultural choice. Baptism is a big deal, change of direction moment for youth and adults.
In fact, for the apostle Paul the ritual of baptism was such a big deal that it was imaged as a form of death, death of the old and rebirth into a new life in Christ. Indeed, there could be no better symbol than that of water for baptism, the waters of birth. And, despite the common church practice of sprinkling water on babies and sometimes adults, there could be no better symbolic act than full immersion into the water to re-emerge anew. It was not uncommon in the early church for those wishing to follow Jesus to study for months and then to be stripped of their clothing before experiencing a full immersion baptism, often on Easter, to initiate their new and full life in Christ, rising from the water to clothed anew in all white.
This morning I'm not here to propose a change in our practices of baptism, but I am here to call us again to immersing ourselves in the Way of Jesus, to be in the practice of becoming beloved community.
I am calling us to remember our baptism, to remember that life we are initiated into and who goes with us on that journey and how important it is. If you have not been baptized, I invite you to consider a conscious choice to follow the way of Jesus and to consecrate that choice in the ritual of baptism.
Remember your baptism.
The Way of Jesus is a profound way of love where there is a deep intention, a free will choice to love in a way that brings healing and justice that moves us beyond cycles of despair and bitterness, of violence and revenge. Baptism is acknowledging the choice to love in a way that goes beyond a judgment as to whether others deserve love, goes beyond simple tit for tat and eye for an eye, goes beyond the focus on what the other did or did not do. It goes beyond a reactive reality about the Other to a creative reality of the Self that simply asks, “How can I manifest love here and now? Love for myself and other, love for community and the whole earth? What form of love would serve the life in me AND the other now and moving forward?”
Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount summarizes the vision of what baptism initiates us into, the Realm of God, life in the Beloved Community where cycles that drain life are replaced by intentions and actions that give life.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you
Turn the other cheek
Blessed are the merciful
Blessed are the peacemakers
Blessed are the humble
Store up treasures of the Spirit
Seek first the Realm of God and do not worry
Treat others as you would like to be treated
Remembering our baptism is remembering that we are called to choose this kind of love.
The fact the you and I often fall short is not as important as remembering our baptism and choosing again the Way of Jesus.
Remember your baptism.
And remember you are not alone on that imperfect journey after baptism to live into this kind of love and service of Life.
I think of Duane still as someone who inspires me on that journey after baptism.
Some years later, I asked about Duane, and found out that he had died.
It was a sad reminder that like many on the Pine Ridge reservation, living to your late fifties is actually better than average. Measured by certain statistics, Pine Ridge is the second poorest place in the Western Hemisphere (after Haiti). In a land area the size of Connecticut, there is one grocery store and one hospital. Alcoholism and diabetes are rampant. Duane knew that most of the food that Lakota people can get is of poor nutritional value so he tried to do something about it.
So when I remember my baptism, and what I am to live for, Duane is one of those in the communion of saints who goes with me. Duane goes with me and helps me remember my baptism not simply because he was a kind and delightful man, but because even amidst the wilderness of poverty and discrimination, amidst a system of injustice and oppression that creates conditions for despair and death, Duane chose to love, to embrace a vision of life, to have a faith in action, to commit to the life of the people. He chose care for the elders and the children. Maybe he found his transforming sacred waters in the sweat of the prayer lodge, but I believe Duane was a baptized human, whether he ever did a Christian ritual of baptism or not, because he immersed himself in a higher sacred purpose beyond himself, a purpose to serve compassion and justice, a lifegiving purpose in the Realm of the Great Spirit.
Who can help you remember your baptism and what baptism is for?
Who in your communion of saints can whisper in your ear, when life for you or your family or this church is difficult, “Remember your baptism.”
Later in worship, during the passing of the peace and the last hymn or even after worship is ended, you are welcome to come forward to the bowl to dip your fingers into the waters and touch your forehead or back of your hand to remember your baptism.
Whether we are at life’s end or closer to its beginning or in the middle, it is wise to pray to God, “May we know Your Presence, May your longings be ours.” This is what Jesus sought and experienced in baptism and this is what we seek when we Remember our Baptism.