Today's service focused on baptism, and especially the dramatic anointing of Christ, where the heavens tore apart and God commended his Son to the world.
Huda's sermon described the complex and highly symbolic rituals used in other Christian denominations. Although ours is more modest in its scope, it is no less significant. It is a sign that we are beloved and that we matter to God.
However, this formulation caused me to wonder about those who are never baptized, who do not live in Christian cultures, or whose parents do not initiate this sacrament. In what sense am I more beloved, in what sense do I matter more than them? Surely not at all.
It is instructive to read what the Presbyterian Church (USA) says on the issue of baptism as a condition to salvation:
Can a person who is not baptized be saved? In a word, yes; but this by no means diminishes the importance of the sacrament. To insist on baptism as necessary for salvation would be to impinge on the limitless sovereignty of God, one of the essentials of the Reformed theological tradition. At the same time, baptism is an indispensable part of Christian life and identity and the church’s mission.
In our own community there are many who seldom if ever feel beloved, who seem to matter not at all. Surely baptism is not only a symbol of our status in God's eyes, but an obligation for us as members of the Church to extend God's love to those for whom any form of blessing may often seem far away.