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I Will with God's Help

Notes & Transcripts

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight – Our strength and our redeemer – Amen

I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you….

You shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26a & 28b)

These are the words that were part of our Old Testament passage

Old Testament? – you sure? Isn’t the Old Testament all Law and Commandments?

Where some would say it was all about - an angry God and a people that continually fell short of God’s Law

            That is a common mistake, to read the Bible only on one level

God is the same God throughout all time

and as we see from the passage from Ezekiel God’s desire has remained the same

            That we should be His people… and He should be our God

And that a new CO-mission, a mission of God with us – Co-mission… is written on our hearts, is what we are sent with

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20)

All the readings today were selected because they are readings that focus on Baptism

Readings that span over 700 years, but I could have chosen readings spanning over 4000 years, and they would have shared the same view of God

            Or more importantly the same view - that God has for us… His people

That we are His creatures - made in the Image of God - made for a purpose and when we stray from that purpose God is forever finding different ways to call us back

And baptism is one key way in which God’s makes us a path towards Holiness – or should I say whole-i-ness and righteous

That is one of the reasons why “there is nothing I like better then Baptismal services”

You see, to me, the whole Christian message - is there

And it is there in the words that so beautifully characterized our role in God’s plan.

In five words we have the entire human situation

- “I will, with God’s help” …

God is there in beginning, in creation

God is there for his people when they were slaves in Egypt and needed him to provide the most incredible escape ever

-          an escape that put fear into the other nations of the world when they knew they were to face the Israelites in battle

-          fear because of the incredible situation, in which God must be on the Israelite’s side to defeat the mighty Egyptians without any weapons

o       only God could do that

-          an escape that defines a people,

God was there in the prophets when the people again and again strayed from God’s will and ways and needed to be told of His plans for them.

And most importantly God gave us clarity of His plan for humanity by living as one of us           by coming as - Jesus the Christ

                        To be an example for what we are to strive for

                                    - the holiness - that is the goal for our lives

                                                - to be in: full faith, trust and love with God the Father

At Jesus’ own baptism – God the Father spoke “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”(Matthew 3:17b)

or at the Transfiguration again a voice from Heaven “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 16:27c)

           

            And then - in the greatest act of love of all – Jesus, the Son of God - died for us

                        Died as the sacrificial lamb - fulfilling the law - dieing for our sins

                                    Taking on everything that we have done that separates us from God

                                                Sin …  that which is out of step with God’s desires for us

                                                            …And saying - I will die for you

                                                                        Die for each one of you

                                                                                   

Then to leave

            That’s right - to leave us to our devices….Our own free will

                        But to leave behind the Holy Spirit, the Advocate

                                    The invisible force that empowers us

In Baptism - you are saying to all of God’s participation in our lives

“Thank you Jesus - I accept”…

                        (Pause)

Today in the Christian Calendar, we continue our Easter celebration

            The Easter season runs from Easter Sunday and for 70 days through to Pentecost

Although each and every day we are blessed with God grace of Easter

But during these 70 days we make special notice of God’s grace

           

And today it is entirely fitting that we should celebrate the baptism Eion, marking the beginning of his membership into the church

            [Also fitting focus – as we mark the beginning of our ministry walk together]

           

We state that that membership is into the Catholic Church

We are not identifying one denomination of the church, the Roman Catholic Church

But the church universal – the whole body of Christ

Through-out the entire world and connected to every believer across all time

To be baptized in God’s Catholic Church means to be united with the people of this congregation – with all the Christians in this city, nation and every Christian through-out the whole world.

            From the child in China to the president of United States

From a missionary in some remote foreign land to our friends and family in this very room

From Eoin, just a few minutes ago to the first disciples 2000 years ago

            And to Jesus, our Lord, Himself

Jesus, who was the very full representative of Israel, the people of God….

Jesus, who, like the Israelites was born to a specific time, land and journey

Forced to flee his homeland to save His life

Came out of Egypt

Thru the waters

John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:14&15)

“Fulfill ALL Righteousness” – three words key to understanding – that Jesus was the full representative Israelite

            Jesus who was forced to journey in the wilderness

Then returned, and like the prophets of old, calling his people away from worldly ways, with a message of repentance and a new way to understand the same message – That God is with us, that we need to walk in His ways

Jesus, as the full representative of Israel – fulfill the demands of the law with His atoning Love – The sacrifice lamb for all of our sins

            Once and forever more – “it is finished”

                        (pause)

Yet… the story for us does not end there, it does not end with death

            Because Jesus went beyond the representative Israelite

                        As only the perfect one could

Jesus defeated death and rose from the dead 

Alleluia – The Lord is Risen

In Baptism, the journey continues – in Baptism we are initiated into be God’s children

            Sharing in the death AND resurrection

                        And sharing in the life of Christ – going forward in the ways of Christ

In the Baptismal liturgy today, promises are made by Tom and Corrina on behalf of Eoin

But also by the whole congregation present - as a representative of the whole Christian church

            And we say the most powerful statement that we could possibly make

                        “I will, with God’s help” …

In those words we accept that - it is our choice to accept God’s gift to us

            In those words we claim to follow Jesus Christ

                        In those words we accept the greatest lesson of all

                                    …We can do it - yet … only with God help

All through-out history the greatest of all sins is to think that we can do it alone

by ourselves

In the garden the sin is not eating an apple but deciding for ourselves to ignore God’s desire and to judge by ourselves that it seemed good

In the words of our baptism - we make the most important statement possible

            We accept our role in God’s plan

           

Understanding that we can not do it alone

            That alone we will fail

In the promises of the Baptismal covenant, in which we all participated in this morning,

            We are given a message of the right ordering of the world

                        We are shown both our Humility and our Hope

God knows we will fail

- He expects it - and has planned a way to redeem us

That is why I love Baptisms the most

            Yes - because we welcome this new life into God’s family

                        ….Which is awesome [the full, proper sense of the word]….

But also because we do it - aligned with God’s plan for us

            We do it … with the right attitude – or if you prefer the right orientation

                        In humility … but - in hope…

                                    “I will, with God’s help”

By making the promises that we make in baptismal service for Eoin, by Tom and Corrina …and each one of us

            We are making the most profound promise that we could ever make

                        We are providing Eoin and each reaffirming for ourselves

The greatest gift that could ever be given

We are accepting the responsibility to share with Eoin and for ourselves the teachings of Christ

Eion will still have to make the choice himself

But … we are providing him with the opportunity to be part of God’s family

Allowing God to be with him… and us

In humility - but - in hope

                                    “I will, with God’s help”

                                               

Lord as we best strive to understand your will and ways in the world, may you strengthen us, renew us in the Baptismal covenant so that we can accept that you will give us a new heart and place a new spirit within us…. That we… shall be your people, and You will be our God. (Ezekiel 36:26a & 28b) - Amen

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