I remember my baptism. I was 10 years old. I remember my parents standing behind me as the pastor led us through the baptismal ritual. When I knelt at the altar, hands fell on my shoulders and the pastor’s hand dripped water over my head and proclaimed the words of baptism: “ I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
In my 10-year-old mind, I thought the act was complete. Although I was not baptized in The Methodist or Evangelical United Brethren church traditions, there was the acknowledgement from the congregation they would pray for those who were baptized that day. I didn’t understand the significance of that promise until much later in my life.
There was a woman in that congregation who kept a list of all the people baptized. It was a long list. She was an old woman. I learned of her prayer discipline at her funeral. Her list was not just a running total of the number of baptized. It was her prayer list. As the story was told she would read the list each morning as her act of praise to God. Often she uttered prayers for those who were facing time of trouble. She gave thanks for celebrations in their lives. And until her funeral, the only person who knew about this was her pastor.
I love this story. This woman embodied the promise we make at each baptism in response to the pastor’s commendation to “do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope and perfect them in love.” In one sense baptism is complete with the water and the invocation of the Spirit. In another sense the work of baptism only begins at that moment.
Everyday we are invited to remember our baptismal promises and act upon them in our work and our relationships. Investing our time and energy in fulfilling these promises will change the present and the future. The words of welcome by the congregation remind us of the importance of our role in shaping the present and future generations of Christians. “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ that, surrounded by steadfast love, you may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.” This is the ongoing work of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Pastors need this support in their lives too. We are, after all, among the baptized. Called out from the baptized to lead as ordained or licensed pastors, pastors are nurtured by the prayers and support of the laity and other clergy.
In a recent interview with a pastor who has participated in Rejuvenate, he expressed his gratitude for the investment that has been made in him, his family and the congregations he will serve over the life time of his ministry. Rejuvenate Ministry is investing in pastors and congregations today in order to ensure excellent leadership now and in the future.
Rejuvenate Ministry seeks to increase and strengthen the baptized, both lay and clergy, for excellence in ministry. More than 1,740 lay and clergy have attended our educational programs. Almost $3 million has been distributed in grants for educational debt, scholarships, retirement, emergency and called anew. As Hoosier United Methodists, your financial support has made this possible. Thank you!
We are $1.5 million away from reaching the Lilly Endowment grant of $3 million. For information about making donations to Rejuvenate, contact Mary Ann Moman at email@example.com, or call 317-788-7879 or toll free 877-391-8811. If you wish to register for an Extravagant Generosity workshop, contact Jody Patty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I invite you to join me in praying for our churches and our pastors, as we fulfill our baptismal promise to live our lives after the example of Christ.
Mary Ann Moman serves as executive director of the Indiana Conference Rejuvenate Ministry.