One Body, One Baptism, One People

by the Rev. Paul McLain


“We are members of one another.” – Ephesians 4:25


When forming an opinion on whatever happens to be the issue of the day, I must confess that often my first thought is: “How does this affect me?” For instance, when looking at the current issue of the day – if, when, and how to reopen schools – it’s easy for me as a non-parent to stay on the sidelines and say, “I don’t have a dog in that hunt.” However, I was moved by Calvary parishioner and parent Heidi Rupke’s editorial in yesterday’s Daily Memphian. What struck me was the way she reframed the issue from simply how decisions by government leaders and education policymakers will affect her and her children to exploring how she and we share opportunities to be imaginative in being part of the solution. Heidi writes, “My husband and I don’t have the luxury of nearby relatives who can help us with the kids. We do have friends with kids in our kids’ schools, though, and here is where I hope we can tap into the incredible smarts and resources that are Memphis. This opportunity to help with kids’ education is not limited to parenting peers, either. Older folks, university students and others can be part of small pods that bring some normalcy and resilience to our children’s lives. This is an ‘all hands on deck’ moment. For everyone’s sake, let’s do this.”[I]


For everyone’s sake. In our Old Testament readings from Genesis and Exodus this year, we are learning the story of how God formed “a people” – the nation of Israel – out of scattered and wandering nomadic tribes of individuals. Our Constitution begins with the phrase, “We the people,” but do we really see ourselves that way? To put it another way, “Do I care about, and am I truly invested in my neighbor’s life?”


Over the next few Sundays, we will be playing catch-up to offer Baptisms that have been delayed by the pandemic. Outwardly, Baptism may seem to be the most individualistic of the sacraments – one infant or adult being sprinkled or immersed, one family affected, what does this have to do with me? On the contrary, Baptism may be the most communal of all the sacraments. We ask the candidates to have godparents or sponsors, someone else invested in the spiritual journey of the child or adult for the rest of their lives. We all pledge to do all in our power to support the child or adult in her or his life in Christ. We all stand and renew our Baptismal Covenant together. We welcome and invite the newly baptized into the household of God to share with us in the eternal priesthood of Jesus. And the service begins with these words from Ephesians, “There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.” If we read a little further in Ephesians, we find this: “The whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love…for we are members of one another.”[ii]


Joined and knit together. We are members of one another. What would happen if we looked at every issue of the day through that lens? What creative imagination and hands-on elbow grease can we bring to being part of the solution? What does it really mean to be “one people”?


[i] Heidi Rupke, “Parents Need to Unite, Make Schooling Work,” Dally Memphian, July 13, 2020.

[ii] Ephesians 4:4-6,16,25.

2 thoughts on “One Body, One Baptism, One People”

  1. Thank you, Paul, (Heidi, too) for this Divine reminder. May you both be especially blessed in the coming days.

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