Sermon: "United Through Baptism"
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who loved you with his life. Amen.
I’d like to begin this morning by thanking you all for the opportunity to be here today. To stand in this pulpit and share God’s word for you. I have admired many men who have stood here before me. My Uncle Peter (Pastor Meier), Pastors Woodford, Gless, and now also Mussell. I am humbled to be numbered with them and the many others who have stood here and proclaimed God’s word to you. I thank you, my brothers and sisters, in Christ, my family, my church. Now before I get too emotional, I want to talk with you about family this morning, more specifically, being a part of God’s family.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I loved getting new stuff...I still love getting new stuff! It’s always exciting to get a new book or toy that is yours. It’s special, it's not your parents or your siblings or anyone else’s, it’s yours. You care about it, you don’t want other people to play with it, let alone touch it, in fear that they might break it or mess it up. Because that thing is so special to you, you might even put your name on it. Even as an adult you put your name on things that are important to you. Maybe your business, the title to your house or car. You even pass your name down to your children. We put our names on those things that we care about, that are important to us.
I. God has made us his children:
In baptism we receive a new name. Baptism is a beautiful thing. Infants, children, teens, and adults are brought before God. They are washed in water. The words of God are spoken. In an instant, we go from being spiritual orphans lost in our sin-filled ways to being adopted by the creator of the universe. We become children of God. Stop. Think about that for just a moment. (Take a literal pause for about 5 seconds) The creator of the universe. The one who created the land and sea, the earth, the planets, the stars, and galaxies, none of those things bear his name…but you do, He comes to you and calls you by name. (Insert names of people sitting in the congregation, 5 or so). He calls you; he marks you with HIS name. In the name of the FATHER, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You are baptized and made a child of God. How cool is that? To have God’s own name placed on you. He says, “You are mine.” He claims us as his own children.
Let’s think for a moment about what it is like to be a child. Now this will be easier for some of you than it is for others. Consider what it is like to be an infant. You are unable to do much of anything for yourself. You need help to be fed and cared for. You long to be loved, held close, and comforted. You love to laugh, cry, and keep others awake at night. You can’t provide anything for your parents, your parents are the ones who provide everything for YOU. We are like spiritual infants. But having been baptized, we have become children of the creator of the universe. There is nothing that we can offer him that he does not already possess. We need to be fed and cared for. We need to be loved, held close, and comforted. We love to laugh and cry, and we stay awake at night uncertain, upset, and scared, wondering if we’ll be taken care of and if our Father even exists or if he can hear us. We have nothing to offer our father, our father provides everything for us, even when we’re not sure that he exists or if he can hear us. But let me assure you. He exists, and he can hear you, and he has, does, and will continue to take care of you. You are his child. He cares for you so much that he has placed his very own name on you, adopting you as his very own son, as his very own daughter.
II. We are united to God – thereby we are united to other Christians
I want you now to pause for a moment and think about your family. Consider your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Maybe you have a very large family. Maybe it is smaller. Think about the people who you consider to be a part of your family whether you are related by blood or not. Families are wonderful blessings. Families share meals and conversations. Families share stories and histories. Families support one another. But families are not all that clean-cut. If I asked the question, “Who here has the perfect family?” I don’t believe any hands would go up. Our families are messy. Our families have disagreements and differences, even divisions. Different people with different ways of thinking and operating, working together or at least trying to…maybe. Regardless of the messiness, disagreements, differences, and yes even the divisions, there is unity in family, whether it be blood, a last name, or many shared memories. There is unity.
In our baptisms, God unifies us with himself. In our baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who gives us faith. The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in you, in me. God dwells with us, in us! With all Christians. God enters into us and bring us new life as we are brought into his family. And because God now dwells in us we are not only united with God but with all the other Christians because God dwells with us all.
Now I want you to think for a moment about Zion. We are a family. We are the church. We are the only church in Mayer. Here at Zion, we share meals and conversations. We have stories and a shared history. We support each other. But like any other family, we are also not clean cut. We are messy. We have disagreements, differences, and yes, even divisions. We are different people with different ways of thinking and operating, and we think that we know what is best. Despite all of that. We have the same mission, sharing hope, teaching Christ. We are unified around this mission.
Now we are not just unified here at Zion. By the grace of God, through our Baptism, He unites us to the larger church. We are united with the churches here in Carver County, Minnesota, the United States. And no it does not stop there. From Mexico to Myanmar, from Canada to China, and every country in between, we are joined together with all Christians. Despite our disagreements, differences, and divisions, whether it be race, gender, social class, or even political party. We are united in Christ. How beautiful that God can take a messed up, broken, and sin-filled people scattered all around the world and unite us together through Jesus! Because God has brought us into unity with himself, we are united with all Christians around the world. We are united to the generations that have come before us and the generations that will come after us. We serve the same Lord and God here and now. We have the same Father. We have the same mission. Go, make disciples. Make disciples of all nations. Make disciples of all races, genders, social classes, and political parties. And baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is a command for all of us. This is how God chooses to grow his family. Through us. His family!
III. We enjoy the promises of God - adoption, family, unity, etc.
On December 10, 1995, I was baptized right here, at this very font and brought into God’s family. Many of you here today we also baptized right here, at this very font. Others of you were baptized elsewhere in baptistries, rivers, lakes or a different font. The place doesn’t matter. What matters is that when you were baptized you received God’s promises for you, given through the water and his word. YOU were baptized in the name of the Triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You, me, WE became a part of God’s family in that moment, he adopted us as HIS children, he became our Father.
Now that we are all God’s children, we have the gift of His Spirit who dwells in us. By the spirit we receive faith. We receive gifts that we have been equipped with to witness about our father and what he has done for us. Gifts of compassion, love, and grace and many others that we use every day through teaching, mowing lawns, printing bulletins, playing music, cooking a meal, and so much more! The things that we do everyday and how we care for others. We all have been brought into a family far bigger than ourselves, a family that extends through all generations. And if you haven’t been baptized. Well then, I have some great news for you! God is inviting you to come and receive, to become a part of his family, to receive his promises for you. Where he places his name on you.
Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, his death and resurrection, we have new life. We were baptized into his death and his resurrection. When we were baptized, that old sinful nature, the spiritual orphan that we were was drowned and died. The words of God were spoken to us and bring us and we were raised back to life because of Jesus. And now we are sons and daughters united together with the gift of the Holy Spirit, to go and proclaim this good news to the world. To baptize and make disciples.
Through our baptism, Jesus is not only our Savior but our brother also. And when our Father looks at us (and our broken messy families), he sees his Son, Jesus. And because of Jesus, we now have the privilege to come before our Heavenly Father, just as children come before their earthly father. We can approach him with any question, and he will answer. Now just like an earthly father, he may not give us the answer we want to hear. When we make mistakes, we will be corrected and even have consequences. But despite our shortcomings, we will always be loved and cared for. His love is perfect. We have all been brought into the family of God through baptism. When we cry out, “Abba, Father" the Spirit cries out with us and our Father hears us. He has adopted us into His family. We are sons and daughters of the creator of the universe. Through him, despite the brokenness of the world, we are one in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Now may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.