Grace: It's Our Way of Life

As Episcopal Christians we
Worship at home daily and together weekly;
Study the Scriptures, our tradition, and what it means to be a disciple today;
Serve our families, our parish, and our world in the name of Christ.

Everything we do is done with an ethic of Welcome
because we are only here by Grace.

10 January 2010

Sermon, Epiphany I, Year C, 2010

Baptism is a tricky thing to approach in the Liturgical traditions, probably elsewhere too, not because there is a dearth of things to talk about, but because there is so much. And, most of us had or have an understanding that is raw or at least undercooked. And, many people still want their grand-babies baptized to save 'em from hell, even if they don't hold a view of God that says that it is necessary. God is more than a compassionate father, or more in keeping with Jesus' teachings, a father who is more than compassionate.

So if God loves us first, then what is baptism in response to God's love? First off it is obedient, and so it is the "first" act in the life of discipleship (even if it is isn't the first time we are obedient to God.) It is also an act of commitment and witness both on our part and on God's.

To say that we are saved or found or converted often is read through a lens of colonialism in our current world as a condemnation of the "Other" who is not saved or lost or unconverted. But that kind of dialogic thinking disregards a God who loves first and to whom we respond in obedience and faith. We leave to a loving, compassionate, merciful God those who are not following Christ. Though we don't "leave" them at all, since we are compelled by the love we have received to reach out in love to them with the witness of faith and love. That witness is lived as the incarnation of God's love in the world, and Jesus is clear about how to do that in the Gospels: love one another, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, heal the sick, love your enemies, give to those who can't pay you back, etc. Embody the love you have gotten from God to those around you.

In this sermon we explore some other aspects of baptism through the lens of our Lord's baptism. One of our local ordained members called this a "thoughty" sermon, but I want to note that I simplified some things as I explained them. Please contact me if I can explain or need to apologize for something. I could have gone on for hours about some of the finer details, but I tried not to lecture too much. The more I looked this story, I am awed by how deeply the Spirit works through the scriptures to grow us and show us the wonder of God's Grace and transform us into his likeness.


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