Tag Archives: baptism

The Art of Accompaniment

accompaniment in prayerOur sister company Twenty-Third Publications has published a booklet called The Art of Accompaniment, which talks about how parishes are called to journey with their parishioners through their lives of faith.

Creative Communications offers products that help with this endeavor. Shepherd Guides cards are for use by the parish to send at milestones and church year holidays to those who were married in the church, who had a child baptized and who buried a loved one within the last year. (See links below.)

http://www.creativecommunications.com/Products/GU1/shepherd-guides-resources-for-baptisms.aspx

http://www.creativecommunications.com/Products/GU2/shepherd-guides-resource-for-weddings.aspx

http://www.creativecommunications.com/Products/GH6/complete-set-of-five-cards.aspx

Creative also offers a journal for godparents to give to their godchildren to encourage them in their faith at their confirmation:

http://www.creativecommunications.com/Products/CA4/called-and-confirmed-confirmation-journal.aspx

There are many ways beyond these publications, of course, to accompany fellow members of God’s family on their faith journey. I know that I personally have been on the receiving end of some uplifting faith-filled texts or emails from church friends who knew I was having a hard week. Those little gestures go a long way to help people stay strong and keep growing in their faith.

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The Joy of the Creator

potterOn June 16, 2017, the Friday before Father’s Day on the Moment in the Word on 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis, the DJ talked about the joy he sees in the eyes of his children when they bring him gifts they have made themselves for him for Father’s Day. His children are overflowing with pride in their creations.

That must be how God felt after creating each of us, the DJ said. The Bible reminds us: “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). God is the one who has formed us and shaped us and molded us into exactly what he wanted us to be. And he could not be more excited about his creation of us. He wants to show us off to the world. Each creation is precious to him.

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The Advance Team

advance teamIn Holy Vocabulary: Rescuing the Language of Faith, Michael Kelley compares the Church to a military advance team called the Delta Force. “The Delta Force is an advance team of specially trained agents who act as the precursor for the army. They perform secret missions, do the hard prep work, and engage the enemy before the entire army arrives. They are the ones who announce that the full army is going to invade” (p. 104).

I like the picture that paints of the value and position of the church. We are doing necessary and important work. Our calling is to wake people up to the reality of what is yet to come: the holy invasion of Christ and all his angels to take believers back with him to heaven.

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Recovery

fontThe image above appeared beside the article “The Church and Recovery,” in the February 2017 issue of Living Lutheran. It is a unique baptismal font at Common Ground Recovery Ministry based in Wyomissing, PA.

The shattered pieces of glass used in the design of the font represent “booze, bottles, glass syringes and other paraphernalia that separated us, not only from God, but also from all that sustains life,” according to the ministry. The light blue cross represents the waters of baptism in which we are all washed clean and given new life in Christ.

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The 7 Visible Marks

churchWhat is the church? It is a question that comes up more frequently these days amid technological and cultural shifts. Amazingly, Martin Luther actually wrestled with that same question 500 years ago. And thankfully for us, Martin Luther expressed what a church is by writing down what he called the seven visible marks of the church:

  1. The Word of God
  2. Baptism
  3. Holy Communion
  4. The Office of the Keys (Confession and Absolution)
  5. Called ministers
  6. Prayer, public praise and thanksgiving to God
  7. Bearing suffering patiently

Luther called these the seven principal parts of Christian sanctification or the seven holy possessions of the church.

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Birth rates

The spiritual birth rate just went up by one.

The spiritual birth rate just went up by one.

I was at a seminar last year in which the topic was birth rates and how the birth rates among Christians have gone down, while the birth rates among other religions have risen substantially.

Sadly, this lower birth rates among Christians has led to fewer churches and lower membership within those churches.

Statistically,  the fact of lower birth rates cannot be denied. But it got me to thinking that just looking at the physical birth rate does not show the whole picture.

Just as Jesus and Nicodemus discussed:

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-9

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Provenance

art museumIn the art world, the term provenance refers to the history of ownership of a work of art. Museum curators go to great lengths to determine who owned a particular piece and when. The more you know about the history of a painting and the more prominent the owners have been, the greater the value of the masterpiece.

As God’s masterpieces, we do not have to track our provenance long. Since our baptisms, we have had but one owner: God. We belong to him and we are more precious to him than the Mona Lisa.

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