Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sermon: Baptism

  Megan, Tyler, Hunter, Shaun and Justin, today you will affirm your Baptism.
          You will confirm that trust in the promises of God found in your Baptism,
that you want to continue to walk the walk of faith
—following after Jesus our Lord as a disciple.
          Before we get there, it’s worth remembering what this whole baptism thing is and is about.
          And so, we’ll continue on in our sermon series here, our review of the Small Catechism, continuing to consider the basics of our faith, consider
“What is Baptism,
Why is it important,
How does it work,
and So what?


What is Baptism?
          Baptism is one of our two sacraments in the Lutheran tradition. A sacrament being a physical thing
commanded by Christ,
that conveys God’s promise.
          Think of that,
a thing Jesus tells us to do!
“Baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Wow! We ought to do it!
          Think of that, as well
—a physical thing.
A physical thing in a world filled with physical things that threaten us, demean us, demand from us
—in the face of all that, a physical thing that calls you God’s child! Cooling water that washes away all those physical things that distress!
          You’re heard me describe my no good rotten really bad week before (Bullet, Knife, crowbar)—that’s why we need the physicality of the sacraments!
          Yes, physical grace ordered and guaranteed by Christ.

Why is Baptism important?
          In it we die with Christ and rise with him.
We are born again.
We become adopted into God’s family.
          When parents come to me and ask me if I’ll “do” their kid
—Baptize them… they say it like it’s a casual thing
—I want to reply:
—You are asking me to ritually kill your kid, and bring them back to life
—take them through the blood and guts of birth again
—connect them with a new family!
Man, that’s intense!
That’s baptism!

How does Baptism work?
          Don’t be fooled for even a minute that the water is what does all of this. As Luther says in his Large Catechism “Water is just water, my dog could drink it.”
          Similarly, it’s not the holiness or sanctity of the person doing the baptism, thank God.
         In fact, one early church father, a Desert Monk, went so far as to say Baptism works even if it is done by a Pagan, who uses sand.
—because Baptism is God’s act, not mine.
God’s washing, not the water’s.

Luther’s theological imagination takes him back to the very first chapter of the book of Genesis, and notes that God creates out of nothing
there is simply the Breath of God and God speaks, which creates something from the depths of Chaos
—the Tohu vaBohu in the Hebrew!
         So too, in Baptism the Breath of God, the Spirit,
         and God speaking, the Word of God,
create something new,
creates a new creature out of the old.
Creates a Christian.

So what?
          Well, confirmands, what does this mean for you all? What are you affirming today?
          We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow after Jesus, wherever he may go.
          To be his disciple,
          We are Baptized, to quote Paul, “so we too might walk in newness of life.”

This is not an easy task,
not an easy identity.
          The baptized life, “walking wet,” is tough.
          A daily way of life.
          An ongoing struggle.
Living among God’s faithful people,
          partaking in the sacraments,
          proclaiming God’s good news in word and deed,
          serving all people,
          striving for justice and peace in all the world.
That’s the calling you are confirming, affirming, saying yes to!

          This Baptismal calling isn’t done in a day, it is the work of a lifetime.
          This Baptismal life isn’t done alone, the five of you are doing this together,
          You have adults who have generously walking with you through this whole two-year process of confirmation.
          You are full members of this community here, St. Stephen, who are here for you.
          You are accompanied by the Triune God, in whose name you were baptized. The Spirit, who makes you holy, the Son, who has redeemed you, and the Father, who created you.
          Megan, Tyler, Hunter, Shaun, and Justin, may God bless you on this your Confirmation day and throughout the joyous struggle of your baptismal life.