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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Colossians 1:24—2:7           

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.

For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (NRSV)

I love when we celebrate baptisms in worship. I love the sound of the water being poured and splashed at the font. I love the moment when the infant grabs at the pastor’s preaching tabs or microphone. I even love when an infant wails and cries—reminding us that the work of baptism is never easy.

But most of all, I love when the pastor carries the infant down the center aisle of the nave—water still trickling down the newborn forehead. I love when the pastor holds the infant for the entire congregation to see and reminds us that this baby, this newborn good news from heaven, is our responsibility. It is our duty and charge to sojourn with the newly baptized in their lifelong journey of faith.

Paul tells the early Christians—he tells us—it is our call to proclaim, teach, and warn so that we can “present everyone mature in Christ.” That’s no easy task.

We are tasked with teaching them about Abraham and Sarah’s struggles, Moses and Miriam’s humility, and Mary and Joseph’s openness to mystery. We are charged to show them the way of Jesus Christ who loved the unloved, found the lost, and lived and died so that we might know the love of God. We are commissioned with the high and holy responsibility to remind those newly baptized that they are children of God—made in the image of God. This is light-creating, earth-shaking, life-saving stuff.

Sometimes I’m unsure if I can really commit to that work. Then I look around at all of those gathered in the sanctuary, and I remember that we do not embark on this task alone. We have the support of one another and the blessing of God. With that, how could we fail?

O God, you are my hope in glory. Help me to take seriously my call to proclaim your love and teach your ways so that those who seek you will grow in their faith and in doing so I will grow closer to you. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator

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