by Tony Nester

You Are a Prize!
Tony Nester
Matthew 18:1-4;10-14

One of my teachers from seminary days often said that every child needs that all-important look in the mother’s eye that communicates, ‘‘You’re just great!’’

We never outgrow the need for that kind of affirmation. No matter how old we become, no matter how sophisticated our lifestyle, no matter how secure we are in our self-esteem, we all need someone to communicate to us - ‘‘You’re just great!’’

And it’s not because we’re egotists or self-absorbed or psychological weaklings. No, not at all. It’s because we’ve been created for relationship.

The Bible explains that the human spirit is the very breath of God and that with each of our breaths we long for the Author of the Universe who put that breath into us. Every relationship of care, of compassion, and of love is a search for the deepest relationship of all - our spirit enfolded in the Spirit of God.

And there is a moment in our faith-journey when God says to us ‘‘You’re just great!’’
Do you know when that moment is? It’s called baptism.

Churches baptize in different ways. Some immerse the baptized completely, some pour water over the head, some sprinkle. There are churches that baptize only adults or professing believers while others baptize all ages, including infants. Some baptisms take place in lakes or rivers, others in tanks or pools built into Sanctuaries, others at a baptismal font. Some churches require a list of beliefs to be professed while others keep it all very simple.

But there is one thing that all churches agree on. When you are baptized, God loves you, God accepts you, God claims you as His own son or daughter. You belong. You are a member of the Household of Faith. God says to you, ‘‘You’re just great!’’

It was so with Jesus’ baptism which we recall today during the Season of Epiphany - the Baptism of the Lord is liturgical designation for this Sunday. The Scripture says that when Jesus came up out of the wa ...

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