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Sunday, January 17, 2016

01172016 Baptism of Jesus Christ Emmanuel Lutheran Goodland KS

January 17, 2016
Christ was Baptized for His Mission

In our Lutheranism 101 class that meets Tuesday nights, we have a good time laughing and joking, even sometimes at my own expense, but that is what makes it fun to laugh with others.  There are times when we come to a concept that is not only important, but has a clear connection with not only each of the members of the class, but with all of us Children of God.  For some of the members of the class, in a fun and playful way, I help them to remember with events from their lives or the lives of their kids.  Just as I sometimes do in the sermon with Sarah, my daughter and sharing her antics at home or school, I playfully and jokingly help members of the class connect their daily life with their faith using words like ‘relationship’ or faith is like a muscle.

This morning is no different, I won’t call names, nor will I call out anybody, because, my intent isn’t to ‘single anybody out’ nor do I want anyone to feel uncomfortable.  But here before us this morning and every Sunday is a piece of church furniture that is a connection of and for each of us with Jesus Christ.

Let’s think for a moment, in the last four weeks we have celebrated the Birth of Jesus Christ in the stable in Bethlehem, heard clearly that Jesus came to serve and last week understand that Who the wise men found in the Manger was “The Purpose”, the Savior of the World, God Who became Man.  And this week we come not to a stable, not following a star, but today we gather at the river.

As we sang in our opening hymn, today we gather at the river.  We gather where our Lord and Savior was baptized on the Jordan River.  When I was in Israel, there is a tourist place where people can gather and be baptized, reminded of their baptism or remember what God has done through baptism.  Historically the place is not accurately known, but to pause where the Sea of Galilee becomes the Jordan River as it flows to the Dead Sea is a very powerful place to be reminded of the connection with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  When you walked in this morning, on the new television screens in the Narthex and on the Sun Deck, I included pictures of my trip to Israel and when I remembered my baptism beside the Jordan River.  So to for each of us today, as we gather here at Emmanuel, we gather to remember that when Christ was Baptized, Christ was Baptized for His Mission.

You see the Mission of Jesus Christ was simple.  Jesus Christ came out of His great love for all of mankind to die on the Cross of Calvary so we might have eternal life.  Jesus Christ mission was to come in order that we might have life, eternal life and have it abundantly.  And this is the promise that God makes and fulfills for each and every one of us when we believe that Jesus Christ dies for you and for me.

No matter if you are Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, E-Free, Evangelical or even Lutheran, the tenet of faith we share is that Jesus Christ was born, lived on this earth and died in order to offer us eternal life.  This is what we share as a common core faith.  Jesus Christ mission was for all of mankind to be saved.  Jesus Christ was baptized in the Jordan River to fulfill righteousness.

As we have heard from our Gospel reading, John the Baptist, didn’t feel qualified to baptize Jesus.  But Jesus Christ knew John had to Baptize Him in order to fulfill God’s plan of salvation.  The plan was clear, be born, escape to Egypt, return to Nazereth and show up on the Jordan River and have John the Baptist, His own cousin Baptize Jesus.  But that wasn’t the end, it was just the beginning.  This was the conclusion of Jesus anonymity here on earth.  From that moment on, Jesus was clearly, firmly and emphatically committed to the mission of going to the Cross of Calvary.

But of what importance is that for us today here in Western Kansas?  Why should that matter, pouring of simple water over the head of a Man Who was born in a stable in Bethlehem?  Simply it should matter because with that simple act of Water intimately connected with Word, God in Human form stood among the people gathered at the Jordan and saw with their own eyes, the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus head and heard clearly God the Father’s voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with Him I am well pleased.”  This was the clearest demonstration, not only of the Trinity, but each person, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Clearly God had a plan and God’s seal of approval was stamped on Jesus Baptism in the Jordan River in order to fulfill all righteousness.

This week has been extremely hard for our family, Michele, Sarah and I.  One of our close family friends walked a sorrowful and painful path that touches Michele, Sarah and I very deeply and closely.  They lost via miscarriage their son in the last week.  For some of you sitting here in the church today, you have also walked this path of loss.  It is not easy and each of our journeys is painful, but also unique.  Michele and I have experienced this same loss, but we were unable to have the same closure as our friends.  Yet, what helped Michele and I through this is that in spite of the loss of life, we have faith in a God Who loves us unconditionally and walked on this earth and was baptized in the Jordan River in order to fulfill all righteousness.  All of this is in order for all of mankind, born, stillborn and all of life no matter the size to be enfolded and personally touched by the love of God.  So with all the saints we lay claim to God’s love today in our remembering today Jesus Christ embarking today with His Baptism on His mission in order to go to the Cross of Calvary so that all of mankind might have eternal life, including you and me.

May each of us every day when we wash our face, hear water running to irrigate our crops or even when we look into the eyes of fellow parishoners, our loved ones, whether child, spouse, parents, in pictures or in person, see Jesus Christ and His love for each of us.  For when we see Jesus Christ and look with eyes of faith we understand our encounter is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ came to fulfill all righteousness in His Baptism and His mission to the Cross of Calvary for you and for me out of His great love for all of mankind, but especially including each and every one of us gathered here this morning who remember our Baptism into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection.  AMEN.

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