Your Baptismal Identity
By Vicar Lisa
In these days, when our identity and credit worthiness determine so many things from how likely you are to get credit or even how trustworthy you may be in a job position handling money, there is no doubt that protecting our identity is important. In fact, there are numerous products on the market today to protect us from identity theft. But no matter how hard we try or what service we sign up for, we cannot be assured that our identities will not be stolen by someone with ill intent.
Fortunately, as baptized believers, we have something far better than any identity protection service. Baptism grants us our true identity as beloved members of God’s family. The particulars of the baptismal ceremony may vary across Christian traditions, but its intent is the same: to mark each baptized person as part of God’s family, and to seal that identity in a way that cannot be taken away.
Baptism is a hugely important part of a Christian’s life. God defines who we are in baptism. We are beloved. As shown by Jesus’s own baptism, when Jesus came up from the water, there was a voice that came from heaven saying, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) We are adopted as God’s children “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” (Galatians 4: 4-5)
Baptism is also an expression of our faith in the message and person of Jesus Christ. In Acts 2: 38, Peter told new converts to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
It is also a picture of what Christ has done for us. It unites us with him in resurrection. Our old self was crucified with him so that we should no longer be slaves to sin because we are set free from sin. (Romans 6: 5-6)
And it indicates our unity with our fellow believers for we share the same Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 tells us that “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ... we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”
Baptism also gives us a template on how to live our lives. Hebrews 12: 1-2 states that, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
The waters of baptism do not magically transfer these realities to us. Instead, baptism is a tangible sign to us of what God has done. He has radically redefined us, into his image. We are beloved children of God, indwelt by the Spirit to live new lives in Christ. As we welcome two believers to our fold this upcoming Easter Sunday by baptism, remember your own identity as a baptized believer. This is an identity not even Satan can steal from you!
Good Friday, April 7, 2023 -- 7 pm Service with the stripping of the altar
Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023 -- 10 a.m. Worship with Holy Communion and Welcoming New Members
Women's Bible Study: Our next study is at 9:30 a.m. Friday, April 14 in the Fellowship Hall. Study is every other Friday. Join in person or via Zoom at: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87573014829?pwd=R3kzMUFxMTZMdEl5ZzVMeUdsVElGQT09 -- Meeting ID: 875 7301 4829 -- Passcode: 304100, or call in: 301-715-8592.
Adult Education: Our next study is at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 16 in the Fellowship Hall. We are starting a series entitled by Heart, Conversations with Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Our next topic will be the Ten Commandments. Please join us for a 30-minute study every Sunday except when council meets.
Springtime Camping Trip: Jeff Smith has reserved the Piedmont Group Area for arrival 5/18, departure 5/20 (Thursday through Saturday) for our 2nd Annual Zion’s camping trip. We have lots of camping spots available for this adventure so plan on attending and invite friends and neighbors. There will be biking, hiking, fishing, a group picnic and other fun activities. A park pass is required for all attendees (annual or daily). Please contact Jeff Smith if you have questions -- see the church directory for contact information.
Card Ministry for New Beginnings: The New Beginnings prison congregation has welcomed a new Pastor, Samm Melton-Hill. We have reached out to Pastor Samm and understand that they would greatly love to reinstated the card ministry with Zions. We are asking that members bring blank greeting cards and stationary that the inmates can use to write cards and letters to those they love and miss. Donations for postage is also appreciated.
Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023
What does it mean to be Christian? Christians are those who believe that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and that he continues to enliven his people with his Spirit. On every Sunday we remember Christ’s resurrection, but once a year we have a blowout celebration of this central mystery of the faith. Come to celebrate with us.
In Year A, most of the gospel readings come from Matthew, and that pattern suggests that John’s Easter gospel be proclaimed at the Easter Vigil and Matthew’s on Easter morning. Jesus appears, not only to the women leaving the tomb, but also to us, who worship him now this Sunday and hold onto his body in the bread of the eucharist.
Throughout the eight Sundays of the fifty days of Easter from Easter Day to Pentecost, the three-year lectionary appoints first readings from Acts. The idea is that the Spirit extended the power of the resurrection from the empty tomb to the whole Christian church, spreading throughout the Greco-Roman world. Thus we can think of each Sunday’s reading from Acts as another telling of the resurrection. In the sermon credited to Peter in Acts 10, Luke referred to the witnesses of the resurrection who “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” We believers see ourselves as among these witnesses.
It is appropriate that, centuries after the life of Jesus, we hear from the letter to the Colossians on Easter Day: we ought not, its author argues, think that seeing angels is necessary for us to have faith in Christ’s resurrection. Rather, baptism has brought us all into the benefits of Easter.
Zion's Lutheran Church