Dear St. Thomas,
One of the honors and gifts that I have found great joy in as a minister is being able to baptize. Last Sunday, I had the honor and privilege to be able to baptize Andrew Konrad. As I discussed baptism with his parents I began to think about what baptism means for each of us. In our baptism, we are entrusted with the responsibilities of living among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God, to share in the Lord’s Supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
As I watch the news and hear about what is happening both in our country and world I find myself struggling with that last responsibility that God gives us: to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. It is becoming more apparent to me that our world is becoming more focused on the needs, wants, desires, preferences, and benefits of individuals rather than working for the benefit of all. I struggle because there are people who live around us, in our state, that STILL do not have access to clean water. I struggle because there are children living in our community who do not know where there next meal is coming from. I struggle because there are people who are not given the opportunity to have affordable healthcare. I struggle because a person’s worth is often measured by the gender they identify with, their age, their religious background, or their ethnic identity. I struggle because there are leaders who cannot put their political affiliations aside to work for the benefit of all rather than their own benefit. I struggle because striving for justice and peace in all the earth seems overwhelming.
However, as I continue to wrestle and struggle with what all of this means I am reassured of the promises that God makes to each one of us in our baptism. We can be reassured of the promise that we are given new life in Jesus each day, that we are united in the body of Christ, and we are claimed, valued, and loved by God and there is nothing that can take that away. These promises free us to make our meager attempts to strive for justice and peace in all the world. These promises free us to see the person that God created when we encounter someone different from us. These promises free us to strive for justice and peace in all the earth because we received peace when we didn’t deserve it.
While the task continues to seem overwhelming, let us consider the ways God is calling us to work for justice and peace in the world together. What are the ways that we can think of to support those who are often forgotten, work for equality for those who are oppressed, and find ways to support those who need access to the necessities of life with dignity? How can we work together to live out our baptismal call and the love that we first received?
In peace and hope,
Pastor Joyce Partyka Staib