Easter Prayer Vigil

Gardner News Article for April 22, 2017

This year during Holy Week I talked about how our bodies are connected with our spirituality.  Thursday I talked about our feet as we read the account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and how when we let Jesus wash our feet we then and let Jesus into our whole lives.   Friday I talked about hands as Jesus’ hands were nailed to the cross and how we do God’s work with our hands.  On Easter Sunday I talked about our heart and how we live a life balanced between fear and joy.  But today I want to share with you some thoughts I had during the Easter Vigil.

There are two ways to think about how our heads connect to our faith.  The first is in our thoughts and the second is through our knowledge.  How do you think about your faith?  Is it something you practice on Sunday mornings or is it something you live out every day?  Our heads help us think about the scripture we read, we think about the prayers we say and we think about how we interact with one another. 

When we read scripture and study scripture the knowledge we have about the Bible grows and we learn about God,  Jesus and our faith.

The other way our heads are involved with our faith is through our baptism, through blessings, through prayer.  On Sundays I bless those who do not receive communion with the sign of the cross on their forehead.  Water is poured over the head of those getting baptized. This is a blessing.

I am not sure we always understand baptism or the power it has in our lives.

When I think about those who have been baptized in my church the past few years, I smile.  Most of the time I baptize infants and I think that is great because there is nothing they have to do to earn that blessing.  The parents, Godparents and the congregation promise to love, support and nurture this young one in their faith.

I recently presided at a graveside service for someone and we stood together and reflected upon the life of the loved one.  We talked together about the good times, about the influence this person had on so many people.   They were thankful for the support they had in the church and how the church literally changed their lives.  That started in their baptism.

I was baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Duncannon, PA.  My faith was formed at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Rutland, VT.  I am thankful for the support of those who helped me to get to know the power of Gods love in my life – who taught me about Jesus and helped me claim my faith.

In the resurrection story in the Gospel of John; Mary sees Jesus and she thinks he is the gardener.  But has soon as he says her name she realizes that he is not the gardener but in fact he is the risen Christ. 

This brings us  back to the Garden of Eden.  When the world was  living in perfect harmony. However, Adam and Eve are tempted with knowledge.  They wanted to know what God knows.  They wanted to listen to the serpent and eat the forbidden fruit.  They forgot the identity that was given to them. Blessed and beloved children of God.

If we are not careful about it we can forget that we are a baptized child of God.  Loved and cared for by God, family and the community of faith.

Baptism makes real for us the promise of God’s unconditional love for us.  Knowing that we are named, claimed and cared for is an awesome thing!!  Knowing that there is nothing that we have to do to to earn Gods love is just as amazing. 

The truth is, Gods love comes to us and is constant in our lives from the moment we are baptized until the day we die.  Something constant like that is not so common anymore.

You are a loved and beloved child of God.  You are a part of God’s family the great thing about that is, it does not matter where you were baptized.  It doesn’t matter if you were baptized in a Lutheran Church, Catholic Church or Methodist Church.  You are a part of the family of God.  

There are only two things that you need for baptism.  

Water and the Word of God.

When we combine Water with the word of God something special happens.  We are creating space for the holy spirit to come and bless us.  

But most importantly, when we witness a baptism – when we remember our baptism we can see that  Jesus identifies Himself with us – sinners. 

In the moment when Mary recognizes Jesus in the Garden she knows that the world has changed forever.  Jesus has fulfilled his mission,  to save the entire world from the power of sin.

After three years of ministry, three years of preaching and healing, of working signs and wonders Jesus is crucified both for us and by us. He dies on the Cross and as promised, on the third day rises again.  In His death, He shatters all barriers between God and Man. In His resurrection, He raises us all up to life in Him. 

Such an amazing thing– this does not just happen on a Sunday morning, but whenever we encounter water we have an opportunity to remember our baptism.  Every time we wash our face, take a shower, go swimming.  Anytime we are surrounded by water and our thoughts and hearts go to the one who created us, the one who loves us and the one who died on the cross for us and who was raised up to show us the power of Gods love.  Jesus Christ our Savior.



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