Sunday, September 8, 2013


Sermon 18C

At the 1030 service we will celebrate the Baptism of two new Christians.  They were introduced to the Sacrament of Baptism through a Godly Play story and have been anticipating this day for a while now.  This is not a typical Baptismal day by the BCP dates, but I think that may be to our advantage this weekend.   The BCP baptismal days fall on major feast days and we rightly consider those major feasts.  We don’t talk about Baptism as often as we could. 

Baptism is our foundational Sacrament – it makes a person a Christian – they are marked as Christ’s own forever and ever no matter what.  In this simple and free act, they achieve full initiation into the church. 

Last week I preached on the full inclusion of EVERYONE at the table – all are welcome, no matter what.  Here is the fine print though – All means All the Baptized when it comes to partaking of the Body and Blood.  All are welcome at the rail.  If you are baptized, you have been adopted by God and are an inheritor of the Kingdom of God.  Therefore, you may eat and drink of Christ’s body and blood to find strength and solace for whatever trials you face as you bear God’s Kingdom into the world. 

If you are not baptized, you are welcome to come to the rail for a Blessing. 

This was a huge debate last year as General Convention.  It was almost as big as the Blessing of Same Sex Unions debate.  Should we as a church make Baptism a foundation for Communion?  Baptism and Communion are the two Great Sacraments – should one hinge on the other?  There was passionate debate on both sides:
            Maybe the act of receiving Communion would nudge someone toward wanting to be baptized – draw them into Christ’s love in a whole new way
            Baptism has been understood as the foundational Sacrament for thousands of years in the church – it is not too much to ask to be able to fully enter into the church. 

So here’s my take on it.  Officially, if I know that you are unbaptized, I cannot offer you Communion, I can offer you a Blessing, which I will sincerely do – and I will pray for you.  I will answer all of your questions about Baptism and encourage your continuing discernment.  I will do everything in my power to convince you to be baptized – it’s a professional hazard!  But no matter what your decision, you are welcome here at St Martin.  You are welcome to come and question and argue and learn and debate – even if you are never baptized. 

In the lessons this weekend, we hear more about the foundational pieces of what it means to be a follower.  We have beautiful images (and scary) of God as Potter – molding us into vessels of Love; God as knitter  and weaver – knitting us together in our mother’s wombs.  We have Paul calling a Runaway Slave a Brother – because of his willingness to be baptized and become a Follower.  Onesimus is still a slave – which is a troubling piece of Christianity’s history – but he is to be considered equally as valuable as the other household members.  Jesus talks about radical loyalties – loyalty to Christ over and above all else: above family ties, above national ties.  There are a lot of churches that refuse to have the national flags in the worship space because it dishonors the flag: we are called to loyalty to Christ first and foremost; we are members of a higher Kingdom.  Christ urges us to consider all of these things – to count the cost before we make these foundational decisions. 

Baptism is a free Sacrament – we only have to give consent.  It seems easy and sweet.  Yet it calls us into a life of radical discipleship and following Christ over and above all things, even our own lives.  In just a minute, we are going to repeat the Baptismal Covenant in place of the Nicene Creed.  As you repeat these beliefs and vows, I pray that you will be drawn ever more deeply into the full love and worship of God as your foundation.  Amen.

Audio of this sermon is on the right sidebar PodBean Player. 

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