Summary: A sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
“What Would We Do Without It?”
Today is Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
It is a day when we are called to “Remember our baptisms and be thankful.”
Of course, if you were baptized as a baby, you probably do not remember your baptism…
…so what is there to be thankful for?
For one thing, baptism is our initiation into Christ’s Church.
And what would our lives be like without the Church?
Formless, empty, filled with despair?
How would your life be different today if you did not have a loving community of brothers and sisters in Christ to support you and cheer you on?
And so many people don’t have that—not even close!!!
This is a painfully isolated and fear-filled culture.
Loneliness and aloneness is the new thing!
Despair is epidemic!!!
Suicide rates have never been higher.
People have never been more unhappy.
What would you do, especially when the dark clouds begin to form and the difficult times of life arise, if you did not know a Savior Who loves you unconditionally, walks with you along life’s way, is with you in the valley and on the mountaintop, knows your sorrow and your grief, and will carry you into the Promised Land?
We become members of Jesus Christ’s Church when we are baptized.
Some of us may be thinking, “If I became a member of the church when I was baptized as a baby, then why did I take a membership class, or go through confirmation and answer all those questions in front of the congregation years later?”
That is because there is a difference between a “baptized member” of the Church and a “professing member.”
A baptized member, often experiences Christian baptism long before he or she can understand what it means…
…not that anyone really understands it!
But, we are called to live into our baptisms.
In other words, baptism is not an end; it is a beginning of a lifelong journey!!!
We might not think about it much, but for many of us, one thing that brings us to church on Sunday is the fact that we were baptized.
At our baptism, our parents or guardians make a promise to bring us up in the Christian faith, and the congregation also makes a promise to nurture and love and be Christ to us!!!
When we are baptized as children, it’s kind of like our parents and the Church saying, “Before you could walk we carried you.
Before you could feed yourself we fed you.
Before you could cloth yourself we clothed you.”
Well, “In the same way, before you could believe, we believed for you.
Before you could make a commitment to Christ, the we made a commitment for you.
Before you could accept what Jesus had done for you on the Cross, we accepted it for you!!!”
Then, when you got to a certain age, you were asked to investigate and determine whether you were going to accept that faith and salvation for yourself—own it if you will—wear it—PROFESS IT—live it!!!
Again, no one really knows fully what they are doing—no matter what their age—on the day they are baptized.
Years later, as we mature in our faith, and have had many experiences with Jesus--the purpose begins to unfold.
And, in a sense, that’s how it was for Jesus as well.
The story of Jesus skips from Him as an infant to a thirty-year-old, and we don’t have a clue as to what happened in between…except for one snippet when He was 12.
One day Jesus puts down His hammer, takes off His tool belt, and heads South where He finds His cousin John, standing in the muddy Jordan.
As a matter of fact, in the Gospel of Mark we don’t even have a birth story.
Chapter 1 simply starts with, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ…”
…and 4 verses later Jesus is getting baptized!!!
And we are told that “Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins.”
So, Jesus gets in line and waits His turn.
He wades out into the water, right next to real live sinners like you and me.
And when Jesus stands up, with the waters of the Jordan dripping down His face, He sees “heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there is a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
Then, Jesus goes into the desert for forty days to think about what it means to be God’s child.
Jesus spends all the days and years that follow that afternoon in the Jordan discovering the meaning of His baptism.