Trinity News and Sermons

01/11/15 Sermon Bullets

The Baptism of Our Lord

  • Today as we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord liturgically, we baptize Claire Eng into the family of God. To be certain, Claire has belonged to God from the moment her life began, but as I always say, today she takes on the name we all share, that of Christian.
  • As we participate in this baptism today, we meditate on our own baptisms, being reminded of sharing the name of Christian and what blessings and responsibilities come with it.
  • What does it mean to be connected with Jesus through the Sacrament of Baptism?
  • Is it an insurance policy? A getting the kid “done” – just in case something happens to them – insurance that they will make it into heaven?
  • Some believe this and act like this. Do you really believe that God would reject a child that dies before they are baptized? Who wants to have a relationship with a God that behaves in THAT way?
  • Is baptism some kind of special shield that protects the baptized from harm? If so, then why do so many baptized people suffer in the world?
  • Are the baptized loved more by God than those who are not? Hear the first words of the Ash Wednesday prayer of the day: Almighty and ever-living God, you hate nothing you have made . . .”
  • Certainly God is pleased when we are baptized and unites us with his Son Jesus in a special way.
  • Does being baptized ensure we will never do wrong in our lives? I remember a woman from my internship congregation who shared with me that she had been baptized 5 times. When I asked her why, she replied, “Because I kept sinning after I was baptized.” I said, “And you’ve stopped sinning now? That is why you are not still being baptized?” She said, “Well, after 5 times I figured, what’s the point?” If being baptized ensures we will never do wrong, I was baptized 53 years ago, and I do wrong things every single day. What’s wrong with me?
  • If all of these explanations aren’t working, what does it mean to be connected with Jesus through baptism? Why is it important?
  • You and I and every human who has ever lived are sinners. We live with a chronic condition of original sin – it is a part of us as surely as our DNA, fingerprints and eye color. As we learned in theology class so many years ago that Latin phrase: non posse non peccare – it is NOT possible for us to NOT sin. It is a part of who we are. We don’t like to acknowledge it, and we often try to deny it, but it is reality.
  • If you don’t believe it, then try to spend one day – ONE DAY – without sinning. We can’t do it.
  • But this sinfulness, this condition that we have is NOT the defining part of who we are.
  • Because God loves us so much, there is so much more to be said about us – so much more of a reality for us.
  • God sent the most precious gift God has into the world to heal us of our sinful condition. That gift is his Son Jesus – who saves us from ourselves and our sinfulness.
  • The bible tells us that Jesus was like us in every way, except he is the one human (and of course divine) that never sinned.
  • John the Baptist was giving a baptism for the repentance of sins – everyone coming to him and confessing their sins. Jesus comes to John to be baptized, but if St. Paul is right, and Jesus did not sin, then why was he baptized by John?
  • Hear the words from 2 Corinthians the 5th chapter: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  • Jesus takes on our sin for us – thus healing us of our chronic condition of sin.
  • To be sure, the effects of our chronic condition are still with us – we keep committing individual sins every day of our life. Sometimes we are better than other times. As St. Paul says in another place – there is a war in our bodies. Like the Fire chief who says that a fire is “under control” – it is not “put out yet.” So it is with us. The death of Jesus on the Cross frees us from our sinfulness – but we won’t know the full benefit of it until we are dead and alive in a new way with Christ Jesus in heaven.
  • So what happens today to Claire? And what happened to each us when we were baptized into the Name of the Trinity?
  • With a little bit of water poured upon Claire from her grandfather – and the ancient words, “you are baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, Claire’s sinful self will be drowned today, and that part of her will die. The old passes away and something new takes its place. She will rise up to a new life in Christ Jesus – a new child, with new possibilities. In this holy act, God’s voice speaks to Claire (and to each of us) in the same way it spoke to Jesus in the Judean desert at the Jordan several thousand years ago: You are mine. You are my beloved. Because of Jesus, I am well pleased with you.
  • And today the Holy Spirit is poured upon Claire in a new way, that she may come to know our God and have a deep and abiding relationship with God all through her life.
  • This is the gift that she receives this day. God’s love FOREVER. ASSURED. And a new family, in addition to the Eng and Welge family. Certainly she has been a part of our family all along, but today it becomes official.
  • And now, the responsibility. We will hear it very shortly in the baptismal liturgy. But St. Paul says it best. Reconciled to God, she is to be an ambassador for Christ. She is given the ministry of reconciliation. She is called to be a reconciler. As are we all. We are called to “trust God, proclaim Christ through word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.” And, we are called to bring the ministry of forgiveness and love to a world who so desperately needs it; especially in these days.
  • Forgiven, we are to forgive. Loved, we are to love. Blessed, we are to be a blessing. At peace with God, we become peacemakers. We don’t do this alone. The Holy Spirit is given to us.
  • Come, Holy Spirit, aid us to keep the vows we make; this very day invade us, and every bondage break. Come, give our lives direction, the gift we covet most: to share the resurrection that leads to Pentecost.