We had a baptism at House for All Sinners and Saints last night. OK, so there are some weird things, some pain-in-the-ass things, some tiring things about being a pastor. But these are entirely over shadowed by the reality that it is an HONOR to be a pastor. I got to baptize a child last night. I am invited into the beautiful and devastating details of people's real lives. I get to be a part of the transitions and joys and sorrows in people's real lives. To be invited into this is an honor and nothing short of. My prayer every day is that I be made worthy of this calling.
Here's the sermon, based on Isaiah 55:1-9 and Psalm 63: 1-8
Ingrid, child of God, today you begin your baptismal journey.
As the waters of baptism still glisten on your head may you know this: You had about the same chance of choosing your God as you had in choosing your parents. This God has chosen you…claimed you and named you as God’s own. It’s a wonderful mercy. A wild mystery to have a God who comes down to claim you in water and the word.
The promises of God are forever bound to you Ingrid. It’s what we call a “done deal” You can’t escape them. These promises will hunt you down and bring you new life as you die and are raised to new life again and again in your baptismal walk.
I hope this happens for you as much as possible Ingrid; this death and new life in baptism. I hope when you grow up that if someone asks you “when were you saved?” You can say “Just again this morning”. Because you have today been baptized into the death and resurrection of the Christ. You have been baptized into an entire life of death and re-birth which will daily be your reality. I hope that you grow to love metanoia – returning to God. We call this repentance which is Greek for changing your thinking. When you begin to think that you have the answers, when you think it’s all figured out I hope you experience metanoia…for in the act of repentance there is the hope of new thinking, new acting, new life which you simply don’t get when you still think you are right about something. Don’t listen when people say that following Christ means being right. To follow the crucified and resurrected one is to live as a people who get to be wrong – who get to be wrong and die to our ideas our pride our despair and be re-born to new life in Christ. I hope you are often wrong Inga …so that you might know deeply this grace of God which makes all things new. Because the baptismal life is a life of returning.
And all of this from water and the word of God.
I hope in your life to come that when you encounter water - this common substance surrounding land and comprising our bodies…I hope when you drink it in; when you dive deep in a pool; when you wade in a stream; when you play in the rain; that you know the wild wonder of God’s promises all around you. I hope that water in your life be a reminder of the promises of God. Promises of new life. Promises that God is with you. Promises that there is more than this life - and yet the eternal is always contained in the present. I hope you see how these promises are for the restoration of all creation. When you encounter water, this most common of substances may you be reminded of this God who is so imminent, so present as to be the host of a meal in which you and indeed all who hunger are called. May you see how present God is in water and bread and wine and community – the salt of tears shed, the leaven of bread shared and the mercy of forgiveness granted.
And when you encounter water, the most common of substances may you be reminded of a God who is also transcendent…. a God whose ways are not your ways and thoughts are not your thoughts as to be the Great mystery of the unknown.
I hope in this journey you are embarking on that you go often to the words of the fierce and uncontainable prophet Isaiah. He will serve you well Ingrid. today as this community gathers around your baptism we hear these words: everyone who thirsts come to the waters and you that have no money come buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
And Ingrid, when you do spend your money and spend your time and spend your self on that which does not satisfy, and trust me on this, you will…when you do, you are still on your baptismal journey. May you see the empty calories of consumerism and Western individualism for what they are and turn again to your God who today has claimed you in these waters. May you return frequently to the abundant and free feast of the Eucharist. When you have crashed from the empty calorie sugar high of self-reliance may you come often to this table where God offers you and all people the feast of life. May you not neglect to gather around the table in the community of Christ with all the other blessed and annoying sinners and receive that which you are called to be – the very body of Christ in this hurt and broken and beautiful world.
And when voices other than Christ’s try to tell you your value and trust me, this will happen, but when it does may you go to Isaiah who bids you listen so that you might live. Listen to the Word of God which claims you as God’s own child. Nothing else gets to tell you who you are. Nothing.
And when you feel as though your needs are too great. When you feel that there must be more to life than this. When it seems like you hunger for more justice, more meaning, more connection know that you are right. But know also that your God placed this need in you. And that this hunger, this longing is actually what qualifies you to sit at the feast of God’s table. Lean into this longing because it is for the one who has called you beloved.
And then go to the Psalms Ingrid….may the Psalms be your place of comfort and lament. They have worked pretty darn well for 4,000 years. Lean into these songs of your ancestors. You now stand in a long line of the faithful who have sung of their thirst for God in the words of the Psalms.
my soul thirsts for you writes the Psalmist, my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there | is no water.
My whole being | clings to you;
your right hand | holds me fast.
My sister in Christ, may your whole being cling to the one who has claimed you as their own. For their hand surely shall hold you fast.
And hold on. Because no doubt it’s going to be a wild ride.