During Holy Week – as we have to be separated from one another and kept from gathering in the sanctuary – we will be keeping vigil with one another as we pray with the stained-glass windows from our sanctuary at First UMC in Warner Robins. Each day we’ll have a theme, meditation, personal prayer focus, and closing prayer. Spend some time in meditation with the image and then commit to a time of personal prayer centered on the daily prayer focus.
Theme: The baptism of Jesus, in which he was sealed by the Holy Spirit and God the Father confessed his love and approval of him.
Look at the image above. Jesus has come to John to submit to the baptism of repentance. Jesus has no need to repent of sin, and yet he comes to show us that repentance is more than simply turning away from sin. Repentance is an intentional turning toward God and God’s ways. How are you being called to turn more fully toward God? Notice that John is holding a purple shell in his left hand. The shell has been a symbol of baptism since the days of the early church. Purple is the color of royalty. Baptism is an initiation into the kingdom of God – the focus of the Church and Christians around the world. In baptism, we leave our old ways behind and enter into the life and ways of the King of kings. What old ways do you need to leave behind? How is God calling you to live a kingdom life? John’s right hand is reaching toward the heavens – the heavens that were opened to reveal the approving voice of God. The right hand is a symbol of strength. John and Jesus are finding their strength in the message of God, who claims us as his beloved children. How do you find strength in God’s claim of approval over you, in which you are named as God’s child? Finally, Jesus has a golden halo surrounding his head. This is a symbol of holiness. The Holy Spirit has descended upon Jesus, sealing him with the power of God and anointing him for his important work ahead. How have you been anointed for good works in the Kingdom of God? Do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit? How so? Remember your baptism and be glad! You have been baptized in water and in fire! How will your baptism mark you today?
Personal Prayer Focus: Those who are lonely and isolated, the vulnerable, and the forgotten. Pray that they experience the assurance of God’s love and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
LORD God, thank you for claiming us as your own and gathering us into the divine presence. May we never forget our place within your community of love and mercy. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, just as the healing and saving waters of baptism flow over us daily. Amen.