Scripture Reference: Matthew 3:13-17
"In Life and in Death, I belong to God." This was the phrase proclaimed as the minister spread ashes on a friend's forehead on Ash Wednesday last year. Silence permeated the dimly lit sanctuary as the rain trickled down outside the stained glass windowpanes, city lights twinkling in the raindrops. Yet, what broke the silence was the declaration, "In life and in death, I belong to God" on the lips of each person as they processed forward. This service included the first sermon I preached during my internship at Decatur Presbyterian. After reading the baptism of Jesus in Matthew, we decided that being confronted with the reality of sin during Lent enabled us to also be confronted with the everlasting Grace that is known in Christ's sacrifice and proclaimed in our baptism.
Before the service I followed my supervisor to a cloak room where he fitted me in a pastor's robe. It was heavy, and quite large. I felt like I was putting on the role of a "pastor" in ways that I had never done before. Placing the robe and stole on my shoulders provided a new sense of what it meant to be used by God. It was not me who was giving a sermon, it was God who was working through me. I was living into my baptismal call in a new way, in a way that didn't glorify myself but reminded me of who I was, and whose I was: a beloved child of God.
I have been lucky to experience how God has called FPC to love, nurture, support, and mentor people for leadership in the church, in officer training, in Bible Study, and even in seminary. When I put on that robe on that dreary Ash Wednesday night, I gave thanks to God for a church family who felt called to show me what it means to proclaim that in life and in death, I belong to God.
Perhaps this Lenten season, we can once again remember our baptism, but also what that calls us to be. I invite you to join me as I re-examine what it means to be "robed" in Christ and used as an instrument of His peace and love through service to God in the workplace, in the community, and in the church.
About the Contributor
Ridgley Beckett was youth intern and Interim Assistant Director of Youth at FPC. Ridgley found FPC as her home after attending while a student at Converse College. God worked through numerous members and staff at FPC to foster a call to ministry in the church. She is now a senior at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. She will graduate in May with a Master's of Divinity and a Master's of Arts in Practical Theology focusing in Christian Education. Upon graduation, Ridgley hopes to serve God as an ordained Teaching Elder in a parish church in the PC(USA).