January 12, 2020:”A Family Affair”
Reading: Matthew 3:1-12
When Kristen and I were living in Tucson, one of the churches I served was called Lord of Grace Lutheran.
And one of the families that left an impression on me was The Franks.
Wendy and John were the parents,
And then you had the children.
All 12 of them.
Many of them came from broken homes, foster homes, some had learning disabilities, others had mental disabilities.
Let me tell you about one of the kids, his name is Logan.
When I met Logan he had just moved in with the Franks.
He was four years old and could not walk.
He had little braces around his feet.
But over time, through hard work and with Wendy and John’s love, he began to walk.
And walk fast!
One night at confirmation, I stood at the opposite end of the fellowship hall, and called out Logan to get his attention and next thing I knew he was booking it to come to my side!
I thought that would be my lasting impression of him.
But I was wrong.
My lasting impression came on the day of Logan’s baptism.
It was a great day not only for Logan but for the entire church.
When we came to the font, there was a step ladder so he could see the font.
As I poured the water into the font, he had this amazed look on his face and he said, “Whoa!!!”
The congregation all laughed and some even said “Whoa” too.
After I marked him with the Cross,
The band started playing a baptism hymn, and we walked Logan around the sanctuary.
Then the most AMAZING thing happened:
Logan started clapping! With the beat!
And he started to give out high fives!
And he had this smile of his face that told me HE WAS INTO THIS!
And then I saw Wendy and the family and the congregation and there was not a dry eye in the place!
We were all overcome with emotion.
We knew that day that the Lord was present and having a blast!
Here is what that day taught me about Baptism:
- Baptism is not a show.
- It is a service…a moment in the life of the one being baptized AND in the life of the congregation.
- It’s the passing of an old way, an old life, to a new life, to something beautiful.
- And…It’s a true family affair.
Here is how it’s a Family Affair.
When God appears in our Gospel lesson,
God not only shows up as the Divine Creator,
But importantly God shows up as a Parent.
A parent who is well-pleased.
Verse 10: “And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.”
For many years, I always pictured the heavens opening up like one opens up a curtain.
Nice and easy.
But that is not what the scripture says.
The heavens do not open like a curtain.
They are torn apart.
How many of you remember the Kool Aid ads?
Hey Kool Aid!
Remember how he would crash through the wall?
I can’t believe I am bringing Kool Aid into a sermon,
But just as Kool Aid crashes into the scene,
The heavens are not gently opened, they TORN INTO our reality.
To “tear something” does not happen neatly, or with a tool.
It is usually done with hands.
And who is that does the tearing?
And why does God rip open the heavens?
To get the best view possible of his son as Jesus on this special.
Think back to the moment your child or your godchild or grandchild was baptized.
Did you sit in the back of the church to watch the event?
You sat in the front.
You wanted to get the best view.
God wants to get the best seat in the house for this special moment.
And when God appears, God likes what he sees!
God is well-pleased.
A proud Papa.
Like when I saw Maddie perform in the Nutcracker, being the youngest one up there, but doing all the turns and dancing,
And having Paul in my arms yelling “She’s so cute!”
Or when the Frank family and the Lord of Grace congregation celebrating a special day in the life of a very precious and special child.
I saw a congregation with tears of joy at what they saw and were feeling.
And I saw a congregation that became a family that day.
They were not just cheering for a little boy who was baptized,
They were cheering their new little brother.
And so was I.
Because Logan and I, the Franks, Lord of Grace, and St. Paul’s…
We are all part of the same family.
When we were baptized, we joined the one family,
The best family,
The strongest family,
The family of God.
And in this family,
We treat everyone, all our brothers and sisters with the same love that God gives them.
And in order for us to remember that,
When you come up to remember your baptism,
Take a moment,
look around the church,
And remember their baptism as well.
Remember that the same love and joy that God finds in you
Is the same love and Joy God finds in them.
As Peter says in our second lesson, God shows no partiality.
That means we are ALL God’s favorite.
That is Good News,
Because that means we have a God who loves us for us.
Not as we should be,
But as we are.