“Commit to Be Seen: The Visible Form” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

January 10th,2019 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I am so thankful for another week with you. Being able to be present in this world is a gift and a privilege, one I do not take lightly. I hope this new year has found you filled with love, happiness, and the warmth you all deserve. I am so grateful for you all. COMMIT 2019 is on its way and my monthly practice has turned into me saying out loud in the mirror “I see you.” It has helped me start to see God at work in me, even on the days when I don’t feel my best. How has committing to “Be Seen” shown up in your life? This Sunday be sure to join YASS at the Pony Bar after worship for some extended fellowship. Also, if you missed last week’s meeting, there is a  page on our website to view the videos and case statement for the building and capital campaign. This has been a labor of love and gifts from so many people, it is so fun to finally get to share this work with you. Special thanks again to the Vandersall Collective and JGArchitects for sharing their gifts an expertise with our community.

I was baptized September 28, 1983 by a Presbyterian minister in my parents’ backyard. My Pop was baptized with me using water that was brought in from the river at my family cabin. Of course, I don’t remember any of it, but my Pop does and has over the years shared with me details of that day.  Do you remember your baptism? What did you think and feel before… and after? How were you different? The same? Baptisms are such a holy experience. They require someone to be both physically and emotionally present. Not just those getting baptized, but those there to witness them as well.  This week in scripture we learn of Jesus’s baptism. Let us read together this incredible story from the Gospel of Luke.

“321 When all the people were baptized, Jesus also came to be baptized. And while Jesus was praying, the skies opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on the Anointed One in visible form, like a dove. A voice from heaven said, “You are my Own, my Beloved. On you my favor rests.” (Luke 3:21-22)

So many incredible things are happening in this story. People are being baptized. JESUS gets baptized. A visible form of God interacts with Jesus. Jesus is claimed, seen, and called ‘beloved’.” So much in just two lines. But what I find interesting as I read this text, is that how important our baptisms are to our faith development has been being discussed well before we see John baptizing. This means that the practice had been seen and told within the communities that Jesus visited. Rituals that use a form of washing (Tvilah) started in Jewish traditions and were probably familiar to Jesus. So, the idea of relating to God through water rituals as a form of communing with the Divine probably piqued his interest. But as more and more people were experiencing the (now) Christian tradition of baptism as a form of community building and faith development, they couldn’t keep that experience to themselves and clearly shared their meaningful experience with Jesus. So much so that even Jesus waited in line – and took a turn. Brought into the Church, into a community, that is of us and him, a community of his own eternal name. All because people shared their stories of baptism.

Friends, if you don’t know the story of your baptism, ask someone who was there and have them tell you about that day. Hear how God claimed you as God’s own and called you beloved. Or maybe sit with a photo from that day and imagine your infant life and faith. If you remember your baptism, what was that experience like for you? Was the water cold? Did you feel different? Who did you tell your experience to afterward? And if you have yet to be baptized, let this serve as a story that invites you to join us. Experience the holy gift that is baptism. Then go and share your story likewise.  God is at work in us, loving us, and offering us eternal grace no matter your status of baptism. But being baptized says “I see you, God.” Being baptized tells the world that you see God in faith communities. You see God in the stranger and the neighbor. Being baptized means that no matter who you are or what society has labeled you, the only label that matters is “Beloved.” Because being baptized is answering God’s call that says “I see you,” with, “I see you too.”

Shalom Y’all.
Rev. Stephanie

A quick prayer for your week: Holy One, I see you and feel seen by you. Amen