A year after taking a position as a seminary professor, I discovered the secret fame of one of my colleagues.

For years, the hymn “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise” (umh, no. 611) has been one of my favorites. It beautifully expresses that baptized children come from God, belong to God, and have their deepest identity in God. One Sunday morning, while we were singing this hymn, I glanced down to the bottom of the page and saw the name of a colleague, whose office is down the hall from mine, noted as the author of the hymn. The next time I saw him in the copy room, I almost asked for his autograph.

I think of that hymn now as I reflect on Peter’s words, “And baptism . . . now saves you.” Does that mean we have to be baptized to go to heaven? Sometimes we have a very narrow understanding of what it means to be saved. We think it’s about going to heaven or not. But many strands of the Christian tradition view salvation more broadly as knowing and growing in one’s identity as a child of God. To be saved is to grow into that identity, to become more like the God whose children we are.

If we think of salvation in these broader terms, then what Peter says makes sense. We are saved in baptism because in baptism God’s grace marks us with our truest identity. We come to discover ourselves as God’s children, children of both blessing and promise. Salvation begins when we know who we most truly are—God’s children—and begin the lifelong journey of growing in love as we become more like the love revealed to us in the resurrection of Christ.

Loving God, help me to claim the truth of my baptism—that I belong to you. Help me to grow more like you in love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 14:15-21

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Lectionary Week
May 11–17, 2020
Scripture Overview

In Acts, Paul visits Athens and finds the people worshiping various deities. He attempts to show them the one true God not by open confrontation but by understanding where they are in their own thinking and then engaging in conversation. This model is confirmed in First Peter: We should always be prepared to give reasons for our faith, but this should be done with gentleness and respect, not confrontation. The psalmist promises to make offerings in the Temple to the Lord because God has brought the people through a period of testing. The psalm thus also ties into First Peter, where the believers are being tested. Jesus tells his disciples in John that God will send the Spirit to empower them to demonstrate their faith by keeping his commands.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Acts 17:22-31. When have you searched for God? How did God’s nearness surprise you?
Read Psalm 66:8-20. What tests have you endured? How have you known God’s presence through times of difficulty?
Read 1 Peter 3:13-22. How does your faith help you determine what is right? How does it give you courage when doing what is right brings you suffering?
Read John 14:15-21. When have you felt encompassed by the Trinity? When has your identity as part of this family felt fragile?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.