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Thursday, April 10, 2014

04092014 Wednesday of Lent 5

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.

It was once said, professional sports teams do the best jobs branding themselves and gaining a loyal fan base.  Everybody has a favorite sport and their favorite team.  In baseball it is either the Royals or Rockies, in football it’s the Bronco’s or the Chiefs and we won’t even get started on college sports here in Kansas. No matter what the sport, everyone has a favorite team and we show our support.  By the clothes we wear that have the team logo, to the colors and even vows to make it to at least one game during the year.  We actively participate in order to show our support.

In a similar way, when we baptize in the church we actively participate through our promises and vows that we make.  When we baptize not only do we use oil to make the sign of the Cross over the child or adults head and heart, we as a congregation are active participants.  Unlike going to the movie where we are always receivers of the entertainment or at the football, baseball, basketball or wrestling matches, where we sit in the stands and only ‘watch’ the action.  In Holy Baptism, we take an active role.

Our active role has three elements.  They are the promises we make, the vows we take and the greeting we offer.  The promises we make include our responsibility as a church to offer Sunday School, Confirmation, Bible Study and even other opportunities to learn about Jesus Christ.  We promise we will find a pastor, find teachers, provide supplies and even teach the kids what the Gospel is all about.  We actively take this on as our responsibility.

We also take the vow that if anything happens to the parents, we will insure the child is brought up in the Christian faith.  In one sense this vow is a throwback to years gone by when the average life expectancy was only 40-50 and accidents were more commonplace.  The vow is and was meant to insure the safety and Christian upbringing of the child and originally was taken by the Sponsors at Holy Baptism, but now the church and specifically the congregation has taken this responsibility as an active participant in the baptism of individuals.

At the end of the service, the congregation as a whole, ‘welcomes’ the child into the Family of God as a fellow heir of the Kingdom of God that they are now baptized into.  In greeting the child it is not only in word, but even by the connection with the vows and promises previously made.  But why is this so important?  Of what consequence is our active participation?

Ironically this stems back to Cain and Abel and after the one brother kills the other.  The question was asked of God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  And since that time and connected to Holy Baptism, we have to respond in the affirmative, we are responsible for each other.  That is what community is all about, that is what the Body of Christ, known as the church has as our responsibility.  We are actively responsible for the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Just as neighbors out on the farm help one another when they are in need, whether at harvest or when tragedy strikes, we in the church are the support that each other needs and it is our active participation and responsibility of, for and in the body of Christ.

And this all begins with our making promises, taking vows and greeting the newly baptized.  For now they are not only co-heirs within the kingdom of God, they are fellow partakers in the grace offered through Jesus Christ and His innocent death for all of mankind.  Including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this evening who are baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  AMEN.

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