When I was much, much younger, I used to love wearing basketball jerseys. I had a whole collection of jerseys from my favorite college and NBA players and during the summer months in particular, I would wear jerseys all the time.
One summer in particular, I was working outside quite a bit. Thankfully, my job was more than supportive of my preferred attire. I was a summer camp counselor, so nearly everyday, I threw on a different (hopefully clean) basketball jersey and then proceed about my day on camp.
Unfortunately, during one particularly hot and sunny week, I didn’t apply enough sunscreen and I ended up with a bad sunburn.
When I finally took my jersey off for the first time all day, my co-counselor burst out laughing. My arms, neck, and parts of my shoulders were bright red, but the rest of my upper body was a pasty white. Even though I wasn’t wearing a shirt, my sunburn made it look as if I still was. It was the most glorious Jersey Sunburn you could ever imagine.
While the sunburn was a little painful, I thought the jersey sunburn was one of the coolest things to ever happen to me. As I’ve said, I love wearing basketball jerseys, and this new jersey sunburn meant that whether or not I wore a jersey, it still looked as if I was wearing one. Even when I took off the jersey, you couldn’t take the jersey away from me.
Stay with me on this, but I think that this Jersey Sunburn is a lot like our baptism.
Our baptism is this joyous welcome into God’s family. We are doused with water and even though we’re quickly dried off, the power of that event still remains.
During High School, I went through some difficult times. At night, before I would go to bed, I would spend some time in prayer, talking with God about all of my struggles. At the end of my nightly prayers I would go to the bathroom and wash my face with water. Three times I would splash my face, reminding my self of my baptism. Then, I would make the sign of the cross on my forehead and say out loud, “I am God’s Child, and nothing can take this away from me.”
Regardless of what jersey we put on next, regardless of what we do or don’t do, regardless of whatever struggles we might face, or success we might have-- no matter what, we are God’s beloved child, and nothing is going to take that away from us.