1 Peter 3:8-22
Do you ever get accused of being naive? Our scripture this morning says when people ask ‘Why are you so optimistic?’ ‘How can you be happy in a time like this?’ ‘How do you remain hopeful?’ tell them about your faith. Tell them about how when everything seemed lost, God was not done with the story. Tell them about how love has the final word. Tell them about how second, third, fourth, forty times forty chances our God offers. Tell them of Jesus’ love.
But do it with love yourself. With gentleness and reverence. Don’t ever smack people over the head with your faith. Don’t preach brimstone and fire.
Speak of your God, who did everything to lovingly reunite us with God’s self. Speak of our God – who though Christ offered forgiveness and reconciliation and peace to all people in all times – even the times before Christ was born.
Speak of your baptism – it does not remove dirt from your body, but rather is an appeal to God through the baptized and resurrected Christ for a good conscious – for the Holy Spirit.
So this holy Easter morning, be a blessing to others. As scripture says and we heard today: You are called to be a blessing to others – and by being a blessing to others, you are blessed.
This holy Easter morning, remember your baptismal vows – those you said, or that someone who loves you very much said on your behalf – remember your confirmation – remember you ARE baptized and ARE a child of God – remember all those who are being baptized for the very first time this morning.
This holy Easter morning – remember where your undying hope comes from – an empty cross, an empty tomb – and a full heart.
Remembering Our Baptisms (adapted from the United Church of Christ Book of Worship)
Pastor: Dear friends, as we come to this font of living water, let us recall the meaning of baptism. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, although many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
People: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body– Jews or Greeks, slave or free– all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Pastor: Now you are the Body of Christ and individually members of it. Let us pray: We thank you, God, for the gift of creation called forth by your saving word. Before the world had shape and form, your Spirit moved over the waters. Out of the waters of the deep, you formed the firmament and brought forth the earth to sustain all life. Eternal God, we offer our prayers to you.
People: Be with us as we recall the wonder of our creation and the greater wonder of our redemption.
Pastor: Bless this water. It makes seeds grow. It refreshes us. It makes us clean.
People: You have made of it a servant of your loving-kindness: Through water you set your people free and quenched their thirst in the desert.
Pastor: With water you washed the Earth clean in the time of Noah. In the time of Moses, your people passed through the Red Sea waters from slavery to freedom and crossed the flowing Jordan to enter the promised land. With water, prophets announced a new covenant that you would make with all humanity.
People: By water, made holy by Christ in the Jordan, you made our sinful nature new in the bath that gives Rebirth.
Pastor: Let this water remind us of our baptism.
All: Let us share the joy of our brothers and sisters throughout the world who are baptized this Easter through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
Renewal of Baptismal Vows
Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
Do you believe in God, the creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the only one begotten of God before all worlds?
Do you believe in God – the Holy Spirit?
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and community, in the breaking of bread, and in prayer?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God’s help.
Those of you who would like to, please come forward to the font for a blessing.
Let us pray: Eternal God, you have come to us in Jesus Christ, given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and forgiven all our sins. Bless us now with the grace we need to fulfill what we have promised. Let us remain faithful and joyful in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ! Amen.