Moravian Church in North America

In Essentials, Unity; In Nonessentials, Liberty; In All Things, Love.

Moravian Church in North America
North: Bethlehem, Pa.
South: Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Weekly Moravian Message, January 11, 2015

First Sunday after the Epiphany

The Sacrament of Baptism

During the Moravian Church’s sacrament of baptism, the officiating clergy states, “Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted baptism as the visible means of entry into the new covenant.” I have always found this statement jarring. After all, as depicted on the cover of this Sunday’s bulletin, John the Baptist baptized his cousin Jesus. So, Jesus did not initiate the practice of baptism; he “instituted” baptism.

We experience this institution in a beautifully crafted liturgy. The sacrament of baptism is a rite of passage. Likely, the most familiar element of this ritual is the anointing with water. But a closer consideration reveals that there is much more, and it is truly meaningful. If the ceremony were only the actions of the minister with water, the full import of baptism would not occur. Understandably, the focus of the ceremony is often the individual being baptized, commonly an infant. But significantly, our sacrament of baptism also includes roles for adults. Here is where parents, sponsors, and congregants offer pledges, oaths, vows, and promises. In doing so, they explicitly profess their faith. All commit to participate actively in Christ’s church.

Through an earnest and sincere investment in an active faith, all members of Christ’s body can celebrate the new covenant. The full realization of the new covenant may be elusive, but the Moravian Church’s sacrament of baptism declares that the new covenant will provide grace through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s summarize. Here are the requirements for adults from the baptismal ceremony: faith cannot be passive, it must be active; faith cannot be rote recitation, it must be a sincere and active expression of Christ’s fundamental commandment: to love one another.

This is a tall order. I find myself deeply challenged each time I participate in the sacrament of baptism. And you?

Steve Krawiec, Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania


Moravian Daily Texts


Monday, July 23 — Psalm 88:13–18
Deuteronomy 32:10–43; Luke 11:1–13

The Lord said to Isaac, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” Genesis 26:4 (NIV)

Many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11

God of our ancestors, we are grateful for the blessings upon blessings that you bestowed upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and also upon us. Thank you for the promise of your unending faithfulness. Amen.

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