January 6, 2020
God, you have moved upon the waters,
you have sung in the rush of wind and flame;
and in your love you have called us sons and daughters:
make us people of the water and your name.
Come fill our waiting hearts
with the spirit of Jesus,
let us shine with your light and peace. Refrain
Give us a thirst for love,
give us a hunger for justice,
make us one with the mind of Christ. Refrain
[Worship and Praise #127]
The assigned lectionary readings for January 12, 2020 The Baptism of Our Lord, are as follows:
Happy New Year!
It is a joy to be back writing in "real time." Our office was closed for two weeks and so the last few articles were written well in advance so there would be no lapse in posting. The challenge now is to resist the desire to tell you everything I would like to have said during my time away.
I do want to say a few words about the weekend I just spent with the youth of our synod at their annual Winter Gathering in Independence, Ohio. It was ironically, the first time in my five years in this office that I've been able to attend. I can't say enough about the leadership skills of the Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) Board and their advisors. They take seriously their responsibility to making sure this event goes off without a hitch and are dedicated to making the utmost effort that the experience is meaningful for those who attend.
I can't say often enough how youth will surprise us when you give them a role in leadership. Several of them are working on the logistics and content of this event even while they are already away in their first year of college. Having spent several years now sitting in on their planning meetings, I am always amazed at seeing their growth and development over the course of that time.
Though I'm trying to focus on the present and not rush into the future, this interaction with young people is one of those joys that I'll miss when I leave this office in a few months.
This coming Sunday we celebrate The Baptism of Our Lord, as is always the custom on the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The day serves as a reminder to us of our Baptism and our awareness of God's grace in light of our failure to live up to the promise that we made, or our godparents/sponsors made on our behalf when we entered into our baptismal covenant.
We are blessed that God sent his son Jesus to be baptized by John. For it was God's way of pointing the way for us. But that way is not an easy way. It was a way of struggle, of suffering, of death, but a death that ultimately results in victory by his resurrection. Our baptismal font is the first step along the path toward that victory. And though we don't necessarily follow that path, Jesus has already made things right for us.
It was Jesus' baptism that reminds us that because of him, we pass from the domination of the brokenness of our humanity into the divine power of God's kingdom. Christ is present with us in our efforts to live out the promise to grow in faith, love and obedience to the will of God.
If you are reading this on Monday, January 6, it is the day of the Epiphany of Our Lord. Some congregations celebrated the festival day on the Second Sunday after Christmas. It is one of my favorite festivals of the Church, but I'm always disappointed at how, because of its fixed date on the calendar, this celebration doesn't get the attention in the United States, as it does in other countries. It is a national holiday in many European nations.
Of course, in my childhood in Puerto Rico, it was our Christmas. I've written on this day before. As a matter of fact, here is a link to last year's Musing around this time, so please excuse the repetition. We called it Three Kings Day or El día de los reyes. On the fifth of January, the eve of Epiphany, we children would take a shoe box, fill it with grass, and place it under our beds. This was ostensibly food for the camels, somewhat like leaving milk and cookies for Santa. When we awoke, the box would be empty of grass, but somewhere in the vicinity under our beds, there would be toys or whatever gifts the "3 reyes magos" (three wise men) brought us.
Rostered leaders, please remember that it's time to complete your annual reports. I do read these reports and respond as appropriate. It is also a way for us, as rostered leaders, to maintain some sense of accountability. The link and instructions will be available on our Wednesday e-news, or you can access the form by clicking HERE.
This Sunday, January 12, I will be with the people of God at Peace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights. Besides preaching and presiding, I will also lead an adult forum to speak more about the ELCA's Sanctuary Declaration which was adopted at our Churchwide Assembly in August of 2019. I look forward to an informative and enriching discussion.
Also, on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., I will take part in the Dominican Sisters and Associates of Peace National Migration Week Prayer Service. This week, January 5-11, is dedicated to providing an opportunity for the Church to highlight the presence and situation of immigrants, refugees, victims, and survivors of human trafficking. The week serves as a time for both prayer and action in support of immigrants and refugees. The Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse is located at 1230 West Market Street in Akron.
This week and always, may God grant you glory and strength through the waters of baptism.
+Bishop Abraham Allende