I find the day of a baptism to be very special. We are bringing another person into the Kingdom of God as a brother or sister of Jesus and a redeemed child of our Heavenly Father. Through water and the word, we have washed away all of sin from the soul of Kenneth symbolically by dying in the water as a sinner, and beginning eternal life as part of God’s family, both those living and dead.
Soon to help Kenneth understand all the better what happened here today we will be studying Luther’s Small Catechism together intended to give folk the very basics of what the Christian faith is all about.
Being baptized does not mean that Kenneth is going to have an easy life. Nowhere does Jesus promise his followers their life of faith will become easy once they become a disciple. Just look at what happened to some his early followers. Peter was crucified upside down. Paul had his head chopped off. Many early followers were killed by lions in the Coliseum in Rome, but Jesus has promised his followers he will be with them whether it is smooth sailing or life is difficult. He has promised to be with us whether we are well or are sick. He promises to give us hope when we lose people we love to death or are facing death ourselves that he will give us the strength, faith, and confidence to experience death itself, with the hope of eternal life.
Our Gospel story of Mark for today brings this home to us. Jesus has been preaching, teaching, and healing, and now to get away for some R & R Jesus says; “Let’s get in the boat and go to the other side.”
A great windstorm arose, and waves were so high they were threatening to swamp the boat. The disciples are filled with terror and look to Jesus for help. There he is sleeping in the back of the boat. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.” Jesus wakes up and rebukes the wind and waves, and a calm settles over the water. The disciples are astonished. Who is this man, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
This story is a parable for Christ’s church of all time. By the time it was written it was against the law of Rome to be a Christian. Many had refused to offer a pinch of incense at the emperor’s altar once a year to proclaim their loyalty to him as their leader and their god.
They were seen as dangerous rebels. When they would gather early Sunday morning to worship and celebrate communion the Roman soldiers if they had the opportunity would break up the gathering and take all present to jail and eventually to be fed to the lions.
A favorite image of the church is a boat crossing the fickle waters of life toward eternal life on the other side of the water. Jesus is with us in the church but being finite human beings with finite hope we sometimes shout: Jesus, you seem to be asleep or on vacation. Come and help us through this scary time.
The entire history of Christianity has been in danger both from within and without. We are told many Christians gave up being believers when the church was tearing apart during the Reformation, and Counter Reformation.
There was so much hatred between folks who followed Jesus but could not love each other that it ushered a dark side of Christianity leading to what are called the 100 years’ war.
Many of our ancestors who immigrated to America did it to flee the fighting.
Even during World War 2 there was a critique of Christianity. “Will wonders ever cease, the Christians are at war and the pagans are at peace.”
Our own church has had its difficult moments. When I came here there was the question raised whether St. Michael would continue as an organized church.
So, Kenneth; we promise you that God has proclaimed to the entire world that you are one of his children. You now have a second family called the church. This family extends throughout all the world and is in eternity as well.
You will soon be entering your teen years and the challenges of what sort of a man you will be. Trust that through prayer, study of the scripture, and gathering with other Christians Christ will show you the way. Each person is a unique child of God with unique talents and abilities. Ask Christ to help you discover what they are and develop them to the fullest.
I am still at the age of 80 developing the skills and abilities the Lord has given me.
A note to us as a congregation. We have committed ourselves to being his brothers and sisters to grow together as Jesus’ disciples. We need to be looking for ways we might encourage Kenneth on his faith journey.
Yes, this is a glorious day. God through water and the Word has adopted a new child, and Jesus has gained a brother. And there is the beginning of a relationship with God that will never end, that is even more powerful than death. Amen.