Rev. Newton Cowan

Rev. Newton Cowan, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

In a book entitled, After Baptism: Shaping the Christian Life, author John P. Burgess walks through our identity after baptism, being marked with the sign of God, name and claimed for all time.

In the second chapter he wrestles with this question: “But isn’t love – God’s love – rather than the commandments, the center of the Christian gospel?” He refers us to the Heidelberg Catechism of 1562 and its opening line defines the Christian life in this way, “What is your only comfort, in life and in death? That I belong-body and soul, in life and in death – not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and completely freed me the dominion of the devil.”

In a world that says we are defined by our family lineage, our careers, our possessions, our number of friends, I feel confident you can come up with your own list. The problem or trap that we can find ourselves in is that we put ourselves first. We can say, “I did this or I did that, it’s all about me.” That may work for a moment in time, but it will end, there comes a point when we are hungry and the things of this world will not satisfy that hunger.

Well, you know the answer in church is always Jesus. Yes, we can get to the point where we remember our Baptism, remember the cross and empty tomb, when we can full embrace that we do not belong to ourselves, and our only comfort in this world and the next is that we belong to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We are part of God’s family.  This is not restrictive, but freeing.

At this time in history we are coming to understand the effects of anxiety on the human body.  The stress we put on ourselves, the worry about what is next, will I have friends in school, will I outlive my spouse and my money, who will take care of me, again you can make your own list.

In such a time as this, we are to reclaim our Baptismal identity as a child of God and that God promises he will never leave us or forsake us.  This is good news; this is something that we can wake up to and go to sleep to at night.

I know that living into this acknowledgment is not automatically going to make everything perfect, but in due time, living into your identity as a child of God, named and claimed and loved, you will have a different lens through which to see the world, a different image when you gaze at yourself in the mirror, made in the image of God.

John Calvin wrote that Scripture is the lens through which we see the world.  It is through God’s Word that we can find peace and comfort and a way to live the Christian Life that is apart from what the world says.

Perhaps you are in that place today where you need a word of hope or someone you love needs a word of hope.  Remind yourself today that you are known, you are loved and your life matters.  And don’t hold on to this good news, share it with others, that God loves them and wants to be in relationship with us, He wants the world to be different.