One little-noted event during the bleak time between January 6 and the beginning of Lent is the story of Jesus’ baptism. And that reminds us of the act of remembering our own baptism. Many of us can’t. We were infants and don’t remember. But rituals like the United Methodist Reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant help us to remember the grace of God in our lives baptism promises. As a congregation, and as individuals, we are called to remember the “mighty acts of God” and our own commitments to the faith.
Which brings us back to the faith of the psalmist. In other psalms, the writer is asking God to save him from his enemies, protect him from those who would harm him, save him from some troubling time in his life. In this one, the psalmist is remembering God’s protection and saving power in the past and is beseeching God to continue to be his Rock and Fortress throughout the remainder of his life. He is reaffirming his faith, allowing him to find courage and strength for living and to find hope for his future.
How often, though, do we affirm such gratitude for God’s help in past days and promise to seek God’s will in all our days to come—only to panic when the “days to come” turn into nightmares? Do we question God’s faithfulness and spend precious time wandering in and out of obedience when we could be living in continued trust that God is working for our good?
Maybe it is good for us to remember our baptism as a way of recalling what God has done in the past and to affirm our desire to trust God for help in the present—recommitting ourselves to the service of God and neighbor.
God, I remember your working in my life in the past. I remember your call to rely on you, to serve others in your name. Lead me, I pray, to joyful service of your children. Amen.
The readings from the Hebrew scriptures share a common theme of calling. Jeremiah is called at a young age to be a prophet. God knew and set apart Jeremiah even in the womb. The psalmist also expresses confidence in God’s call, because God knew him even before he was born. In the same way, God knows each one of us and has a plan for our lives that is not an afterthought. In this First Corinthians passage (often read at weddings), Paul speaks of love. But this love is not infatuation and is not based on emotion. It is intentional, strong, gritty, and unselfish. In Luke we see that many struggle with the fact that Jesus’ calling is also to serve the marginalized. Jesus reveals that God has a missional heart.
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10. What is God calling you to do? How does your passion intersect with the world’s needs?
Read Psalm 71:1-6. God promises not to make our lives easy or perfectly safe but to be with us when we face challenges. In a world that seems increasingly violent, how do you find assurance of God’s continuous presence?
Read 1 Corinthians 13. God calls us to a vocation of love. How can you be more loving in your daily work or activities?
Read Luke 4:21-30. How do you see God’s call in those you know best? How can you look to minister to the outsider and the oppressed?
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.