This Sunday in worship we will renew our baptismal vows and also baptize “back up baby Jesus” Harrison who would have been baby Jesus on Christmas Eve in the event baby Analiese had caught a cold or otherwise been indisposed. I’ve had a lot of fun with Harrison’s family calling him “the back up baby Jesus.” Looking at him here, you can tell he has inherited the gift of enjoying a little fun.
One way of thinking about our baptisms is that we are all something like “back up baby Jesus(es).” Baptism is the moment when we all say something like,
I am willing to stand by Jesus,"
"to stand with Jesus,"
"to stand for Jesus,”
"to back Jesus up.”
On Sunday when we renew vows that we made or were made for us at our baptism, this will be what we affirm.
The words I use to invite us to make this affirmation are not “Will you be the back up baby Jesus?” In our worship we will observe the longer order of service for the reaffirmation of our baptismal vows. I’ll ask some very deep and important questions including, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior, put your whole trust in his grace and promise to serve him as your Lord in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?” Words like Savior, Grace and Lord, I know are not ones we use everyday.
We will also recite the Apostle’s Creed together. Some people take exception to reciting this ancient affirmation of our faith because it says things and suggests things that well… we have some serious questions about. I get that.
I have a thought to share about answering these questions and reciting the Apostle’s creed together from my experience of faith. When we answer, “I do” to questions in our baptismal covenant, we are identifying our common questions and concerns about our faith as much as affirming our certainty. We all struggle with what one theologian called an “Ultimate Concern,” something others might call “Lord.” Most of us are not looking for all the right answers, but a path to follow in life that asks the questions we can live out of. On Sunday we recognize that we need someone to help us, to perhaps even lead us, on this journey… we need what some call a “Savior.”
And when it comes to that creed…let me just say….I have throughout my career used the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer as a way to teach young men and women about our faith. We spend an entire year studying each phrase. I believe everything in this creed…perhaps not in the way some one who is using it literally. The Apostle’s Creed is a way of asking the difficult questions of faith not because it leads to the comfortable feeling of certainty, but as it encourages us to embrace the uncertainty of being fully alive in faith.
The questions we will answer and the creed we will affirm are ways we physically identify ourselves with all those who have grappled with what it means to live faithfully.
All that is to say, come to worship Sunday and explore in your heart what it means for you to say that you will be the back up baby Jesus with Harrison and all the rest of us here at EPUMC.
Keep the Faith,