Grace and Peace Sisters and Brothers,
Two weeks ago in worship, we celebrated a service of baptism renewal,
that we might remember our baptism and be thankful. At baptism, we are initiated into the new covenant in Jesus Christ and membership in the Church, Christ’s body in the world. For many, this happens when they are very young. Baptism is a moment in which God is truly present, breaking into the mundane realm of our lives proclaiming the true reality of the Resurrection and the Kingdom of God. When we refer to baptism as a sacrament, we (the Church) claim that the holy nature of baptism is not of our own doing but God’s and baptism is something God has freely offered to us all.

God chooses all of us. We have all been elected by God to receive God’s grace. God loves us, calls us by name and embraces us before we can know or understand it. In Baptism, we are anointed with the Holy Spirit, raised with Christ out of the death of our sin, and marked for Christian discipleship. The Church claims that God has already been at work in our lives and Baptism marks the beginning of our incorporation into God’s covenant. We call this going before action on the part of God, prevenient grace.

Have you ever received hand me down clothes as a child? Often they do not quite fit, and most of the time they are too big. As a child I received lots of these, and I was always told “You will grow into it.” Baptism, for many of us, is like that. We receive it at a very young age, we don’t quite understand it, and often we need others to help us along the way. As we grow older, we become the people that God has called us to be, and slowly those baptismal garments begin to fit better. We become like Christ. Baptism is not simply just what gets us into heaven nor is it a form of divine fire insurance. Rather, the Holy Spirit transforms our inner being, preparing us for a life with Christ that we might grow into.

We are excited to tell you about something special for our First United Methodist Church family. Every spring, some of our students reach the age where we invite them to take a much closer look at our Christian faith and to claim, or Confirm, the faith for themselves. Confirmation is an opportunity to respond to the grace of God available to us, as acknowledged in baptism, and to promise to live as a person of faith. However, they will not be alone in this. Our students will have a mentor to guide them through this process, a community of peers to support them, and the love and prayers of the entire congregation. These students will be presented before the congregation on February 3, 2019. Please be present to see the new thing that God is doing with our young people! We also ask that you be willing to pray for them, that we might support our young brothers and sisters as they grow into the people that God is calling them to become!

Christ’s Peace, Will, Ed, and the FUMC Family