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Singing Miriam’s song, exploring ‘unknown wilderness’ ahead

Tuesday worship includes renewal of baptism

July 7, 2010

Taylor Lewis Guthrie

Taylor Lewis Guthrie, candidate for ordination from Louisville, Ky., preached during Tuesday morning worship. —Photo by Danny Bolin

MINNEAPOLIS

Baptism is the “ultimate call and response” to God, preacher Taylor Lewis Guthrie told worshipers Tuesday at the 219th General Assembly’s worship service.

Guthrie, a recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School and candidate for ordination from Louisville, Ky., said baptism is not a “one-time sacrament.” By renewing our baptism daily, we remember and respond to God’s call.

A “renewal of baptism” ritual included an invitation to each worshiper to take a small glass pebble from baskets passed around as a reminder to “believe in your baptism.”

In a sermon that flowed seamlessly back and forth from the Old Testament book of Exodus to today, Guthrie helped listeners sense their place in the family of those called to serve God.

Guthrie pulled in her listeners immediately: “It was one of those perfect New England summer days … and I was miserable,” she began. She described her feelings as a soon-to-be graduate, sitting by the seashore sipping lemonade and wondering, “What happens next?”

Fresh out of Egypt, having just crossed the Red Sea, the Israelites also must have wondered, “What has God planned?” Then, said Guthrie, “Miriam stands up with a tambourine in hand and begins to sing.” Her song reminds the people of their God, who delivered them from slavery. It creates a path into “that unknown wilderness ahead.”

“For generations, we in the PC(USA) have sung that song,” Guthrie continued. “Our baptism binds us to those first baptisms in the Jordan River, and to all baptisms since.”