Of Baptism and Confession

baptism
Written for February 28, 2016

Dear Father God,

We come to you today in celebration, having been able to participate in baptism. In 1 Corinthians 12, there is the description of the fellowship of believers as a body. A body of many parts, with each part important and necessary to the whole.

Lord when we look at our youngest members we are struck at the remarkable miracle that is their life. Holding their little hands and looking at their little fingers we cannot help but wonder how we were once so small. We thank you so much for the life entrusted to this child.

Lord, in these children we see hope. We are blessed to have these examples. In them, we see how we differ. Time leaves its mark on our bodies. We bring before you our joys and our pains.

[insert specific requests here]

You have covenanted with us, and likewise, we have made covenants/promises with you.

As a body we have promised to provide support and to surround each other in community and fellowship. To grow together, to learn together, to teach each other, and together to worship you. Lord, every time we have the privilege of celebrating Baptism we are reminded that this promise is not just to specific children or specific parents, but that as a congregation we are making this promise to all members of the body of Christ.

Lord, we want to thank you for those who show this promise to our children very visibly – from the Sunday morning nursery care, to the weekly 3 & 4 year old Sunday School teachers, through the elementary year Sunday school teachers, the GEMS and Cadet Counselors, the Teen and Youth Club leaders, and those not mentioned. Lord we thank you so much for the roles they take and the service they model to our children. Yet Lord, in giving this thanks, help us not to see these servants of the body of Christ as having completed the baptism promises. For Lord, we serve the young members of our Congregation in so many more ways – from the moments we share in the hallways and aisles of this church, how we react in the pew, gymnasium and parking lot. When we bump into them during the week, at the grocery store or in their schools, for example.

Yes Lord, as a body with many parts, you have called us to these kinds of service while keeping our focus on you. This is not something we can do easily or well. Often our focus is easily distracted for many reasons. Lord we come before you in confession of these failings. Much like the Israelites of the Old Testament, we let our desires, our wills and our disputes rule us in such ways that we stray. And like the Israelites, there are too many times that we become aware of these mistakes, intend to take our next steps according to you will, and before we can even complete that next step we manage to stray off the path again. Yes Lord, we must anger you again and again. Please forgive us!

May we have the courage to take the grace and gift that you have offered us through Christ, and the promise that you are always with us as we renew our efforts to walk as you would lead. Help us with this in our individual lives, but also as a body of fellowship. Perhaps this is a harder request. For as a body with many parts, Lord, we have been blessed with many gifts, talents, wealth, opportunity, dreams, intentions and wills. Many with a strong conviction and desire to serve you, and our individual determination to answer these calls. And Lord, in this determination we struggle. Lord, we struggle against ourselves and our own distraction. Sometimes more significantly we struggle against ourselves. We struggle quietly in the pew on Sunday mornings. We struggle more vocally in the gymnasium and parking lot. Often in our conversation our struggles are voiced and with our focus distracted, our struggles become rumblings. With time our rumblings become rifts, and our rifts become tears. Tears [crying] become tears [rips]. People leaving rooms when others enter, refusal to acknowledge each other. Refusal to find room in our lives to share the burdens and the joys as we just promised this morning in the words of baptism. Sometimes Lord, these struggles to become so big that we feel there is no other choice but to leave because it can feel like we are faced with no hope and no example of fellowship in Christ.

Oh Lord, this is a real and deep confession. We sit here uncomfortable to say it. We sit here and wish that it were not so. We sit here and at some level weep. For you have called us to be a body. A body with each member important. Each part essential to the whole. And we are drawn to that promise! We want that kind of fellowship, a way to live and serve together. Every person here finds a fellowship and community like that ideal. And then time and time again, we fracture and we break. We look at each other and we want your community to grow here. So, we seek solutions and we seek actions – each in our individual ways and with our individual determinations. Perhaps Lord, in doing so we manage to place our next steps away from your direction by those very choices and continuing the process again.

Lord, help us! You don’t ask us to come to you with answers! You have the answers. You don’t need us to convince and convict each other, for you have provided the Holy Spirit to work within us. You have provided the examples and the teachings in your scriptures to lead us. You have redeemed all of us through Christ. The gift is open to all of us. Lord, help us be open to receive your leading. Help us be open to hear your direction. Help us to find unity in you and not in dispute.

Grant us love. Love for one another. Love to see each other as family and not as adversaries.

Grant us joy. Joy to celebrate with each other. Joy together in our faith. Joy to motivate us to right action and to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Grant us peace. We are tired, we are sore, we are hurt. We keep thinking we need to accept the role of carrying this on our own. Help us to lay these concerns down at your feet. Help us to place these burdens down and to rest in your peace. Peace to heal, peace to give us space to seek your leading and your guiding.

Grant to us patience. Patience to guide our words, to carry each other as we hurt and patience to trust you to work out your calling in us, individually and as a body. Patience to allow time for healing. Patience to temper our drive for action when we cannot see any happening. Patience to know that even though we cannot see, you are working in the body of Christ and despite our efforts, your will be done.

Grant us kindness. May our first reaction to ourselves be kindness. May our first action toward others be kindness. May we reflect you in our actions.

Grant us goodness. Goodness of spirit; goodness of heart; goodness of fellowship. Goodness in our words, our listening, our leadership and our following.

Grant us faithfulness. May we remain open and following your leading. May we be faithful in our actions. May we be faithful.

Grant us gentleness. Gentleness with each other. We are all important, we all have a role and we are all needed. You have called us to unity, and this cannot be achieved without gentleness.

Grant us self-control. Lord, perhaps this is one were our individual natures cause us to struggle the most. Our nature makes it easiest for us when we place the burden of right and wrong in such a way that the wrong lays on the other person’s shoulder. Lord, in self-control, may we learn have our eyes opened to our responsibility, our role and our part in the life of this congregation. Grant us self control so that each of us may take up our role wisely and together we work toward achieving what you call us to be.

Lord may we take all of these things. All ourselves and place them before you. May we be what you have called us to be. Together may we live out you purpose so that we can live up to the promises we make. The intentions and good desires that we have. Together Lord, may we become the body of Christ.

Amen

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