As Lent begins, we start once more on a journey of reflection and repentance. The scriptures that lead us into Lent this year are all "watery" ones. We read about the days after the flood, when God sets a rainbow in the sky to remember God's promise never to destroy the earth again. We read read about Jesus' baptism, and then his time in the desert before he begins his ministry.
To reflect on these scriptures, we will start our Lenten journey by remembering our own baptism. Of, if you haven't been baptized yet, contemplating what that sacrament means. On February 26, the first Sunday of Lent, we will participate in a ritual in worship to remember the waters of baptism. We never "re-baptize," but we do need times to remember our part of the baptismal covenant in which we promise to follow Jesus Christ. During worship, everyone will be invited to come plunge their hands into the baptismal font, remembering that we die to sin as our hands go down into the water, and that we are raised with Christ as our hands come out of the bowl. Elders will then serve us by drying our hands.
Today, we reflected briefly on the many candles we use in worship, one of which is a baptismal candle. We ask all those children and adults who have been baptized in the church to light that candle each year on the anniversary of their baptism. That simple act reminds us that Christ is the center of our lives and His light goes with us wherever life takes us. After the worship service, a man came up to speak with me. Glen is in his eighties and I baptized him in January of 2011. He said, "I wanted you to know that I lit my baptismal candle this year on January 9. I remembered my baptism." I was amazed and so thankful that people of all ages value that action and take seriously the meaning of baptism throughout our lives.
Baptism also sets us on the journey of discipleship. It is the beginning of the journey and God's act toward us that allows us to strengthen our faith and our discipleship. After we remember our baptisms, everyone at First Presbyterian Church will be encouraged to take on a spiritual practice during Lent. Instead of giving up chocolate or potato chips, try adding one small thing to your daily life that will shape your faith, and may even transform it. Materials will be available at the church to help you pick the right spiritual practice for you. Choose a daily devotional guide, read the daily Lectionary scriptures, do an online devotional at www.d365.org, save change each day for the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering or make a commitment to pray each time you or your family sit down for a meal.