Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pentecost 7A and Baptism of JBEdwards: "Bring them to me"

Lectionary: Isaiah 55:1-5; Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-22; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

I begin with a quote from the 2009 report to the Episcopal Church from the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops:

“Baptism unites [us] to Christ. One receives thereby Christ’s own Spirit as the power to lead a reformed, Christ-like life. In the Eucharist [we] actually draw upon that life-giving Spirit, which comes to us through the gift of Christ’s own humanity to us in the elements, to grow into and sustain under trial a Christ-like transformation of life…. In baptism [we are] graciously adopted into God’s household and then nourished by God in the Eucharist. Believers receive the Spirit [of God] in baptism leading to sanctification by [that same] Spirit’s work in the Eucharist.”

Our Gospel reading from Matthew is a story of Baptism and Eucharist. The feeding of the 5000 (plus all of those women and children who got a mention this time), is the only miracle story present in all four gospel accounts, which points to its significance.

Matthew tells us that when the crowds followed Jesus to the place where he was trying to be alone,he had compassion on them and healed their sick. But that wasn’t enough. The crowd continued to linger. They wanted to stay near Jesus.

When evening came, the disciples became concerned that the people needed to be sent away so they could find something to eat before it got dark. Recognizing what they were truly hungry for, and knowing how they would need to be fed, not just this night, but forever, Jesus said to his disciples: "Bring them here to me." (2)

YOU bring them, and YOU distribute to them the food I will give you. And from that time on, Jesus’ disciples have been doing that very same thing - in our churches. If you think about it, it’s exactly what we are doing here today, though admittedly, ours is on a much smaller scale.

The parents of Thomas Edwards, who are disciples of Jesus in our time, are doing as Jesus commanded when he said: “Bring them here to me.” Together with Thomas’ parents, we, his church community, are consecrating him, setting him apart, and committing to support and uphold Thomas as he discovers and lives out the sacred purpose God has for his life.

Then all of us will share a Holy Eucharist together, a celebration of our redemption. We will nourish ourselves with the holy food and drink given to us by our Savior, renewing and strengthening ourselves to serve God in “unity, constancy and peace” all our days. (3)

The process of a “Christ-like transformation of life” is ongoing and achieved in community. Today we welcome Thomas Edwards into this community and promise to pray and work with him and his family as we all engage this process together.

I now invite the candidate for Baptism and his parents, god-parents, family and friends to process with me to the font. Children in the church are also welcome to join us at the font. As we do, we will all sing Hymn number 296.

(1) (REFLECTIONS ON HOLY BAPTISM AND THE HOLY EUCHARIST, A Response to Resolution D084 of the 75th General Convention By The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops, June 2009)
(2) Mt 14:18
(3) BCP, 363

No comments: