January 12, 2020
Baptism of our Lord
Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
As we gather today, we remember Jesus’ baptism. We began worship not with confession and forgiveness which we do almost 99.9% of the time we gather in worship, but rather with the Thanksgiving for Baptism.
It’s true, maybe you saw it in my eyes, I LOVE beginning with the Thanksgiving for Baptism, especially the sprinkling of the water part. Billy says I really get into it. He’s right.
In preparation for today I got to thinking about my own baptism. And you know what? I don’t remember it. I’ve seen pictures such as this one.
I’ve heard stories, but I have no memory of it actually happening. And yet I know, that on March 31, 1974 my mom and dad brought me to the font at Faith Lutheran Church in East Hartford and I was welcomed into the Lord’s family.
This past year I visited Faith Lutheran while my mom was at her bell choir rehearsal, they may still have the same font, just with a new bowl.
Even though I cannot remember it, but for pictures and stories, I know it happened. I know I’m baptized and it’s because of God’s gift of love in my life that it has happened. It was nothing that I personally did or can do, it is entirely a gift of God’s grace. Even though it was my baptism, it was not about me. It was a gift to me and through that gift I have been named, claimed and called to be sent.
I am God’s beloved child.
I am claimed by God with the mark of the cross on my forehead.
And I am sent into the world to proclaim this great love to all people.
Today we hear about Jesus’ baptism. Jesus heads out into the wilderness, to for a baptism of repentance. It is done, as Jesus says to fulfill all righteousness. As Jesus comes up out of the water, the Spirit of God comes down…and we/they hear a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” After this act of baptism, we hear that Jesus is named, claimed, and sent. This baptism isn’t based on anything that Jesus had done up to that point or anything he hadn’t done. This act was a gift of God.
As we hear about this act we know that Jesus is God’s beloved child.
Jesus is claimed by God.
Jesus is sent into the world to proclaim this great love to all people.
Kathleen Norris writes about Jesus baptism in this way, “that the incarnation (God becoming human) is not only about Jesus but about us: ….it demonstrates to us not only what God is like but also who God wishes us to be.” (Kathleen Norris, The Word, Christian Century)
Let me say that again, “The incarnation is not only about Jesus but about us: … it demonstrates to us not only what God is like but also who God wishes us to be.”
So, our baptism isn’t about us.
And Jesus’ baptism isn’t about him.
Both of these amazing acts of God’s love are not about the individual being baptized, but about a God of love and how God shows and shares that love in the world around us.
Both baptisms are all about God and God’s gift to us as individuals and as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ.
And so today is a day that invites us to remember the gift of baptism and how it has changed us and how it changes us for life in the world around us.
What do you remember about your baptism?
Do you have pictures that you’ve seen?
What stories have you heard or do you tell about that day?
I’m sure this has the potential to be a walk down memory lane with your families later and I encourage you to do so. Bring out the photo albums, or look through memories on social media, and talk about that day with your kids, grandkids, parents or grandparents.
As we remember our baptisms, we remember them right now, together as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ, proclaiming together that we are daughters and sons, children of God.
We, as the body of Christ, are named. We are claimed.
And we are sent.
We are sent to live among God’s faithful people,
We are sent to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
We are sent to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
We are sent to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
And we are sent to strive for justice and peace in all the earth!
Yup, we are sent, to do all of the above…and then some.
We don’t just hang out here after worship until worship rolls around next week, although there is often wonderful times of conversation and visitation after worship. We leave here.
Because, again, it’s not about us!
I know, you are awesome.
You are created in God’s image.
You are loved more than you could possibly know.
But the truth is, it’s not about you. (womp womp)
It’s all about this great gift from God.
It’s all about God’s love for you!
It’s all about God knowing you and who God created you be and who God continues to call you to be.
It’s all about how this great gift of God calls us as individuals together to tell stories of God’s love as have experienced it in our own lives and how we know this love can transform the world through our words and actions.
So, go from this place, (Well, not just yet, church isn’t over yet…)
But when you do, go…washed in these waters to proclaim the good news of God in Christ in all that you say, go serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and go…strive for justice and peace in all the earth!
You got this!
And now may the peace which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen.