“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their heart if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, ‘I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’” Luke 3:15-16

I was filled with a feeling of “renewal” within my soul as I listened to the sermon this past Sunday. I felt so at home and so filled with hope for the New Year.

Sometimes I wish I could just live at church because I feel so loved, so welcome, so like it really is my home.

The simplicity of the sanctuary: Jesus on the cross, suspended as if in mid-air watching over us; the altar that is “dressed in simple glory;” the beautiful stained glass windows letting beautiful rays of sunshine in; even in the darkness of the night, the streetlights continue to shine in glory to God in the highest, emanating warmth and love. It is the nearest to heaven I can get on earth. There is a little bit of heaven, as we see the love that surrounds our church grounds, welcoming all who enter her doors.

We have so many wonderful parishioners who take care of our church and people who really give of their love to her, The Bride of Christ. I give heartfelt thanksgiving to God for these folks who are dear to my heart.

Our priest is full of warmth, caring, concern. I know he deeply loves and prays for us. I give thanksgiving to him as well. Blessed are we, indeed!

This was the First Sunday after the Epiphany, “The Baptism of our Lord,” and we were again reminded how heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus in the form of a dove, after he had been baptized and was praying.

Don’t know if you remember the moment you were baptized, but I sure do. I never went to church much as a child, but my grandmother insisted I be baptized and thus I was, in the Christian Church, in a small town in southern Illinois.

I was 7 or 8, and I was submerged. The Christian Church had in the front of the church a place that held water and that is where people were baptized.

Wearing a yellow chenille bathrobe, that I just loved, the minister led me into the “tub” looking place and placed a handkerchief over my nose and mouth and immersed me into the water.

What a glorious memory I still hold in my mind and heart after all these many years.

I know God loves me, sinner that I am. So many times during my life I have felt the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that life gives us so many “arrows of pain and suffering” that come out of “nowhere,” I am so blessed to know that I can talk to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit any time I want because I know, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 King James Bible)

Just because we go to church and are baptized does not mean that our life will be joyful all the time. We may wonder why we have to suffer so much, especially, if we think we have all this faith.

Faith is what we must have to meet the “troubles” head-on. No one suffered more than Jesus. He suffered for us, to save us from our sins. The least we can do is to have that faith that God sends to us, by way of Jesus’ birth, teachings, sufferings and finally death; and then to be “Lifted up to heaven.” As we follow the church calendar, let us stop and reflect upon the life of Jesus and really get to know Him, Our Father and the Holy Spirit.

I pray you find comfort in your church home and you welcome newcomers and reach out to those you meet along your path in life and invite them into your “home,” Jesus’ home on earth, your church.

Oh what a joyous day we have on Sundays. Let us try and make each day of the week like a day spending time with our Father in Heaven, right here on earth.

“Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit; Grant that all who are baptized into his name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.”

I am reminded each and every Sunday of my Baptism and I thank God for His love and forgiveness of my sins. Please join me in remembering your baptism. If you have not been baptized, please pray to God to lead you to the Cross of Salvation and be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God is the refreshing water of life.

May God bless you and your family and any animal companions you may have.

Leigh Moran of Fort Wayne has had wonderful, painful, frightening and uplifting experiences, centered around her relationship with God, that she shares in her writings. She has seen what faith can do for each of us. She and her husband have three children and three granddaughters. A former teacher and a social worker, she is a 12-year breast cancer survivor. She has a ministry for cancer patients in Indiana and Nashville, Tennessee.

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