Sunday, August 5, 2018

Pentecost 11-B & Baptism of Emerson P Chase

Lectionary: 2 Samuel 11:26-12, 13a; Psalm 51: 1-13; Ephesians 4: 1-16; John 6:24-35

Note: If the above player doesn't work on your deivce, click HERE for an alternative audio format.

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

What a grand day we get to share together! Today we welcome a new member of the body of Christ by the sacrament of Baptism: my grandson, Emerson Patrick Chase.

I am especially thankful that this branch of the family tree of God has been chosen to welcome him. I’m grateful that Emerson will begin his Christian journey drenched in your love and I will always tell him about you as he grows, connecting him to your gifts of kindness, deep spirituality, and commitment to relationship (to name just a few) as he comes into contact with a world that may not always radiate with the light of Christian virtues.

But Emerson will because today he will be baptized and the glory of God will live in him all the days of his life. He may forget that here and there, but we will always remember; and we’ll remind him, because that’s what the family of God does.

We celebrate the radiance of the glory of God that dwells within each of us, within all of us, and it dwells there for a purpose: to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Jesus Christ as it says in our Catechism. (BCP, 855) That is the calling to which we’ve been called, as St Paul says in his epistle to the church in Ephesus, and it can only be accomplished by choosing to be made one with God who accomplishes it though us.

By making that choice, as we do in Baptism, then affirm in Confirmation, we commit to living with “humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Living in that way can be challenging because it makes us noticeably different from the world in which we live – and that’s why we do it in community. As Bp. Tom Wright says, there are no individual Christians. By definition, a Christian is a member of a body – the body of Christ. St. Paul says it like this: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

Within this body, the body of Christ, we are very diverse, each of us uniquely gifted to live the life to which we’ve been called. All of our gifts are necessary and as messy as it sometimes gets having such variety of perspectives in one body, the truth is we are, as a whole, greater than the sum of our parts because the wholeness in which we dwell is Christ himself.

What our individual gifts are will be revealed within our faith community where they will be nourished and formed to maturity so that God can use them to accomplish God’s purpose which is: reconciling the whole world to God’s self through Jesus Christ. As St. Paul says, “we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.”

One of the most important and effective ways we build ourselves up in love is by gathering in community to be nourished by Word and Sacrament – joining our humanity to Christ’s divinity through the holy food of Communion.

This is what Jesus is talking about in the gospel lesson from John. Having just fed the 5000, the people find Jesus again and they hunger for what he has to offer. Knowing their stomachs are full, Jesus targets their true hunger – their spiritual alienation.

Jesus references a story they all know – the story of their salvation in the wilderness from Exodus where God sends manna from heaven - food that keeps them alive, food that comes from no effort on their part but as a gift from God.

Then Jesus claims himself to be that manna in his stunning concluding statement: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is openly proclaiming himself as the Incarnate Word. Jesus, who is the firstborn of this is, as our Creed says, fully human and fully divine. If we believe that, and if we eat and drink of his nature, then he abides in us and we in him.

We then, are the next-born of this. We aren’t born this way, as Lady Gaga would say. We are re-born into it through our Baptism.

That is why today is such an important day in the life of Emerson Patrick, all of us who know and love him, and all will come to know him as he lives his life. We are not the living bread - we are where it dwells. Each time we eat and drink in the nature of our Savior in this holy meal we strengthen our union with him and with one another. This is what prepares us as a church, and individually as members of it, to go into the world with strength and courage carrying God’s love to all with gladness and singleness of heart. (BCP, 365)As poet Marianne Williamson says, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” (from the poem: Our Greatest Fear)

That is something that Emerson does right now just by being. The glory of God is evident in looking at the miracle he is, the potential his life promises. It gets harder to keep doing that as life happens, as fears and hurts tarnish our experience of ourselves and the glory of God that dwells within us.

Thankfully, Jesus gave us a way to continually restore that glory to its original brilliance: Holy Communion. Each time we take that spiritual nourishment, Christ’s divinity is manifestly joined to our humanity and he literally dwells within us.

When we baptize Emerson, we anticipate that the light of God’s glory within him will shine in the world all the days of his life, and we promise to be with him as a community to support him as he accomplishes the purpose God has for him. We promise to do that for one another as well.

So, are you ready? Let’s do this. Let’s baptize this glorious child of God and welcome him into the body of Christ.

No comments: