“When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” – Timothy 3:4-7

In early December we spent a long weekend with someone who has known me since preschool. In the course of 31 years of friendship, we have graduated from Barbie dolls to real kids, from preschool to graduate school, from putting on puppet shows and neighborhood penny carnivals to retreats and fundraisers. And over the course of time, my name has changed from Jenny to simply Jen. I “grew up” and so did my name.

Yet, when I arrived at their house, I became “Jenny” again. Each time she referred to me that way I was reminded that she has known we as long as I have known myself, that I have no memories of my life without her. Each time she called out to me as “Jenny,” was a return to my own core, my truest self.

In baptism our whole life begins anew. The new name we receive is a reminder of our new identity, one where we are saved by the “bath of rebirth and renewal.” Whatever came before pales in comparison to what will come next with Jesus. Each time we renew our own baptism, we remind each other of who we are at that core.

Today’s readings also challenge us to act for justice that flows from our own identity in Christ. Last week, we found our two-year-old painstakingly carrying Dixie cups of water from the sink to the dog’s bowl. She had dragged a chair to the sink, found a cup, filled it and then carried it back and forth to the bowl over and over again. “The doggie was thirsty,” she explained. I thanked her for taking care of the dog and showed her that I could carry a bigger jug to fill the whole bowl.

When faced with the complexities of the world’s injustice, we can be overwhelmed by the needs around us and tempted to a sense of apathy. How could I ever fill that void, meet that dire need, reverse that stark injustice? In baptism, God reminds us that we don’t have to be the Savior. We are asked to recognize and claim our identity (and each other’s) as God’s beloved ones.

When each one of us responds to the needs we DO recognize with wholehearted generosity, we call forth a more generous response in all those around us.

Jen Coito