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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

03162014 Second Sunday in Lent (Lent 2)

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Whenever I would enter a classroom in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and seminary, the first thing I would do would be to look at the board.  Now when younger some will be able to relate it was the old slate chalk boards that had the dusty erasers that always needed taken out to the poll in back of the school and ‘beaten out’ or ‘dusted’.  In today’s world we have what we have before us, a dry erase board.  A new-fangled invention, because some people we know have become allergic to the chalk and these boards are a little less messy and hypoallergenic.  None the less, what is on the board when you enter the classroom is a clear indication of what the teacher would be teaching about or lecturing to the class about for the day.

So to this morning, as we begin in our series on Holy Baptism, I have a simple yet very profound math problem on the board.  It isn’t bad math by any stretch, but it does relate to us and what we receive when we are baptized.  Let’s pull out our bulletin insert and delve into the Sacrament of Holy Baptism by reading the response to the questions, “What is Baptism?” and “Which is that word of God?”  The Sacrament of Holy Baptism, What is Baptism?  Baptism is not just plain water, but it is water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word.  Which is that word of God?  Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Let’s ask God to help us understand our own baptism as we go to Him in prayer.

Lord of Heaven and earth, Your Word is definitely and certainly true and commands us to trust You in all things.  Enable us as we gather here this morning to understand Your commands are not for our detriment, but our blessing, for this blessing comes because of our baptism into Your Son’s life, death and resurrection.  May we fully understand this and clearly thank and praise You for all the blessings we find in Your Word for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

On our board this morning is a simple formula that denotes not only a simple math truth, but the truth of what we receive in our baptism.  “1 + 1 + 1 = 3”  We could easily use symbols for this and would potentially make more sense for us.  The first “1” is a symbol for us in Holy Baptism of the Water.  [DRAW a DROP of WATER] A few weeks ago in confirmation we were talking about Holy Baptism and I was explaining how anybody could baptize in cases of emergency.  Again a student asked a very good question, “Does the water have to be ‘holy water?’”  I simply responded, no it is not required nor necessary.  The water can be any water.  Whether from a water bottle, river or any source, it only needs to be water.  This satisfied their curiosity and showed me they were all in fact listening and interested.

The second “1” signifies the “Word of God”.  [DRAW a BOOK/BIBLE]  It is God’s Word or the Holy Scriptures that clearly and unmistakably changes the playing field.  God’s Word reveals not only the heart of God, but prophesied about what God would do in sending His Son Jesus Christ.  From the waters of creation where the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit hovered over the Water on the Earth, to the use of the Word of God by Jesus Christ against Satan.  God’s Word sets us free and when connected with the Water in Baptism, reveals the gifts of God for the people of God.

The Final “1” signifies you and me.  [DRAW a human] Water plus the Word of God is not only tangible, but when poured over our heads or we are immersed in the Water, God makes us a new creation.  A month and a half ago, I had the extreme pleasure to baptize a man who was near death.  He had requested Holy Baptism and wanted it before he died.  The significant thing was not the use of Water or Word, but that with the connection of Water plus Word plus his presence, God in the most extraordinary and profound way entered his life and offered him life and salvation.  God came down from heaven and for the first time called him a child of God.  What is more profound is that less than a month later, I had the extreme pleasure to tell, not of what this man had done on earth, but of what God had done in him through, Water, Word and its being poured over his head and how now he after his death he rested in his Saviors arms.  He was a new creation redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ for all eternity.

In that one moment what we receive in our baptism with Water plus Word plus our presence equals the greatest blessing of all eternity.  We receive the “3” or the ‘logical part’ or the blessing of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  [DRAW a Triangle]  With our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection, we receive the greatest blessing for all eternity.  This is the promise and the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life we are made partakers of with our baptism.  We now are partakers of eternal life and our entrance into heaven is promised unto us.  This is the free grace that God offers unto us that we with our baptism are now partakers of with WATER, WORD and EACH OF US.  This is God’s Work, not man’s.

I was once asked about baptism and what is my role in the act of baptism?  The question stemmed from an understanding that well, you are the pastor, so you must have a significant role in baptism.  And my response was simple and clear.  Baptism is a gift that God offers unto us.  It is something that we as Pastors are only passively involved in, God is the main action agent and I as pastor am just a mere spectator.  Yes, I pour the water over the persons head, yes, I say the words, but it is not me, but God working through me.  God is the main character here in divine action.  I am only a sinful man, God is the one Who baptizes people, I am only a simple towel boy that is privileged to be used by God to impart the greatest gift of grace known to mankind.

For with our baptism, God offers us grace upon grace and offers us eternal life.  Through the WATER intimately connected with WORD being poured over US, God gives to us the greatest blessing of eternal life in the Trinitarian Name being bestowed upon us.  And today we receive another of the greatest mysteries of God of His Son, Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood.  Through our baptism we receive the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation and today are offered His precious Body and Blood.  These are the blessings we receive from Father, Son and Holy Spirit for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning remembering the grace offered to us through our baptism of WATER and WORD over EACH of US by the invocation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  AMEN.

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