Marked as Christ’s Own Forever: Week 1 | Day 1

In Baptism, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.” This introduction to the six-week series,”5 Marks of Love,” from the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, invites you to participate in God’s mission.

Activity: Write a Letter to God

Transcript: Hello, and welcome to our six-week program entitled The Five Marks of Love.

I’ve always been moved by the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  At the moment of the baptism, the priest takes into his or her arms the infant, baptizes them with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then dips a finger in holy oil and makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead.  And as he or she makes the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead, the priest recites these words, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.”  In baptism, God claims us as God’s own children and tells us that we are beloved.  We are joined with the family of faith, the Church, the Body of Christ in the world, and we are incorporated into the life and the mission of God in the world.

God’s mission could be described in a number of ways.  Jesus came proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God – a different sort of kingdom in which the first were last and the last first, in which we were called not to be masters but to be servants, in which the ideal is to lay down our lives for one another in love.

In 1984, the Anglican Communion identified Five Marks of Mission – five activities that are characteristic of the work of the Church in the world.  These are really five characteristics of God’s mission in the world, because God is mission and all mission originates from God and from God’s love.  The Five Marks of Mission that the Anglican Church identified were:  first, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God; second, teaching, baptizing, and nurturing new believers; third, responding to human need by loving service; fourth, transforming unjust structures, challenging violence of every kind, and pursuing peace and reconciliation; and fifth, striving to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth.

We’ll be taking each of these Marks of Mission and spending a week kind of spinning them out and reflecting on them.  But before we do that, this week will be a week of introduction in which we will just talk about the nature of mission, to underscore that mission comes from God.  It’s God’s mission, not the Church’s mission.  It’s God’s mission.  And the Church, Christians, believers, are invited to participate in that mission and carry out that mission with God.  But it is God who initiates and God who leads the mission.

And so our stance first of all in coming to these Marks of Mission is to come in the spirit of listening and receptivity.  We want to hear God’s voice.  We want to know God’s mind.  We want to discern God’s will in these areas before we act.  And so we want to stress the importance of prayer, and of worship, and of our deep connection with God as the source of the life that leads us to manifest these various Marks of Mission.

Well, welcome to our study.  Each day you will receive an email video from one of the brothers.  And at the end of the week, a sample exercise is contained in the workbook (that you can download from the web or that you can purchase).  In the exercise at the end of the week on Saturday, we’ll give you a chance to put into practice some of your thoughts and ideas and to be prepared to share those with others.  Welcome again to this program and God bless you all as you meditate with us on these marks of God’s life within us.

– Br. David Vryhof

1-letterfromgodWeek 1 Activity: Write a Letter to God
Slowly writing out our words of love for another person can be a meditative practice that connects us in a deep way. This week, spend some time hand-writing a letter to God.  What would you say? How might you express your love for God in words?

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity


  1. Jaan Sass on March 2, 2017 at 18:09

    I am definitely excited by this series. I grew up in a fundamentalist church with a lot of contradictory messages. I have a difficult time seeing myself as Beloved. I was baptized when I was seven after seeing a horrid movie about hell which was circulating among fundamentalist churches at the time. Sometimes I realize what I know that God does love me but emotionally I still batter myself.

  2. Claudette on March 1, 2017 at 20:53

    I read Br. David Vryhof’s introduction to this week’s study and I felt that he was saying that in baptism we are welcomed into life in God. Some people (as Bryan has done) prefer to have their children be baptised when they are older and they are making a commitment to a life in God. What is important to me is that the person knows that he/she is beloved by God. In my opinion, when we are grounded in this deep relationship,our lives will reflect the awareness that we are truly loved and we will share this love with those who we meet

  3. Nancy on February 27, 2017 at 20:30

    I need this is in my life, this will help me grow. My letter to God would start. Thank you God for not taking my daughter home with you when she got cancer at 17 years old. I have so much to be thankful for.

  4. Bryan Cook on February 27, 2017 at 08:35

    Thanks for this 6 week program in which I hope to share with prayer, meditation and action directed towards a more serene approach to life come Easter. Br. David Vryhof seems to argue that the act of baptism is the means to entering the fold of God. I believe that we are all God’s children and under His care, be we Christian or not, sinner or innocent, baptised or not. Our sins are already forgiven the instant they are committed by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and his Rebirth. My children were not baptised because we, like many other parents in the early 70’s, believed that they should make their own decisions as to Belief when they matured sufficiently to be able to make good judgements. As adults now, they have not made this commitment, at least not publicly. I am sure that our decision did not exclude them from Salvation, however I have a lingering guilt. It did not prevent us from taking them to Church or instilling in them a strong moral code which has served them well through very tough times. Surely baptism is more of a pledge do provide the child with these opportunities and to lead by moral example. I would be asking God for this assurance in my letter to Him. Seeking Serenity, Bryan

  5. Kathy Olsem on February 26, 2017 at 07:47

    I am encouraged by this format and the topic of the lessons to reflect more closely as I enter into the season of Lent. Thank you for bringing this to us.

  6. John McCann on February 20, 2017 at 11:20

    I can’t wait to participate- I have a copy of the workbook, and am looking forward to my planned visit to the Guesthouse of SSJE mid-March. A great way to lean into Lent.

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