Rev. Heather J. Blais
This morning I’d like us to spend some time thinking about labels.
Labels are used to classify people or things, and they are often restrictive.
What labels was Jesus assigned--by himself or others?
(Pictured below are the labels we named for Jesus. They include messiah, wonderful counselor, crazy, heretic, Christ, foolish, etc.)
Alright, let’s transition now.
What labels are you assigned--by yourself or others?
You each are going to be given a pen and a post it.
When you are ready, write down the labels you are aware you carry around and then go put them on the “US” stick figure.
These labels can be warranted or unwarranted.
They can be the good, the bad, and the ugly.
(Pictured below are the labels we named for ourselves. They include labels about our physical appearance, our relationships, our occupations, our personalities, our socio-economic status, etc.)
This is a lot that we each carry around each and every day.
Some have truth in them, and some may have been unfairly assigned to us.
Let's turn back to Jesus. If we were to peel back all of Jesus labels, only one would remain.
The label that was affirmed in his baptism, when a voice from heaven said to him,
“This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The same is true for us. And I would argue this truth begins long before baptism, but at our birth.
Rachel Held Evans once said that,
“[In baptism] you splash water on a baby’s head, or dunk someone underneath the water, and as they come up, tell them that over and beyond any other label that the world might assign you, you are a beloved child of God and nothing can change that.”*
No matter what other labels are assigned to us, none matters more than our identity as a beloved child of God.
This is the truth we affirm in our baptism.
The unchangeable truth affirmed in our baptism is that we are beloved children of God. In following Jesus’ example of baptism, we are saying we recognize this truth, and we long to do our best to live into this truth. We will stumble, we may fall away, and yet this unchangeable truth remains. We are all broken, beautiful, and beloved children of God.
I wonder, which labels in your life do you pay the most attention to? How much does that compare to the time you spend remembering that you are a beloved child of God? Or to flip this all on its head--what labels do you assign others? In the people that drive you the most crazy are you able to see the unchangeable truth, that they too, are a beloved child of God?Given all this--what does your baptism mean to you? Amen.
*Rachel Held Evans on The Liturgist Podcast-Season 1, Episode 19 Searching for Sunday with Rachel Held Evans
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