Sermon Archives

Sunday, January 13, 2019
The Baptism of our Lord
The Reverend Andrew Van Culin, Rector
Three Words Spoken

In the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Three Words Spoken.

Today is an important day in our life as a community – among the most important, in fact.  As we baptize, William Houser Colman and Meredith Ann Durkee, and welcome new members, there will be a lot to say as we make our common covenants and promises and share the two central sacraments of our common life this morning.  So much so, that what’s really important, might actually get lost in it all.

So, for a few minutes, I want to highlight three important words spoken this morning.

First, and most important of all, is God’s word to us.  These are the same words proclaimed not only at every baptism, but at every birth:  “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  These were, as we just heard, the very words spoken at Jesus’ baptism; but they were an echo of the words proclaimed at his birth as angels sang and the heavens rejoiced.  At the birth of every child, God rejoices and the heavens sing out.  At the birth of every child, God and parents together proclaim:  “you are my Child, my Beloved; with you we are well pleased.”

And here at a baptism, the word is spoken again.  It’s not new, of course, Ann Mason and Jon have long known that William is beloved; and Kelly and Scott have known all her life that Meredith is beloved; but today, we are all reminded of this truth.  Today, we are like the shepherds and magi who gather to witness and proclaim the splendor of God’s love.

“You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  This is the first, and most important, word spoken today.

But it is not the only important word of the day.

If the first word is God’s to us, the second is our word to God:  You are my God.

Now, we don’t actually say those words, but that is the thrust of what we do say.  We say the Baptismal Covenant instead.  We proclaim our faith through the Apostles’ Creed and we recommit to the life of faith through the covenantal promises that follow.  But through it all, we speak our word to God.  We proclaim our trust and commitment to God.  We stake our claim, if you will, on the life of Christ – who showed us that true life is found not through acquisition and power, but through sacrifice and mercy; who revealed to us the true purpose of life:  the restoration and healing of one another and all the world.  And in so doing, we re-commit ourselves, inadequate though we are, to making his life of sacrifice and surrender, generosity and grace, our own.

You are my God.  That is the second word; our word spoken to God, the three in one.

And there is one more word of great significance today:  our word to one another:  You are not alone, for we will do this together.

The life of faith is hard.  It’s a daunting thing to endeavor to live the life of Christ, the life of sacrifice and surrender, generosity and grace – so daunting in fact, that we promise to support one in that journey!  We promise to support and uphold one another through prayer and care, and so we prayer for one another each week through our cycle of prayer – you all know the little cards that you receive from me two or three times a year saying that we are praying for you.  Every week, here on Sunday then throughout the week at Morning Prayer we hold members of our community, members who have committed to living the life of Christ, in our prayers.  And when we know of one who is suffering in some way, we draw them into our hearts and extend our hands in loving support, because life alone is tough, and the life of Christ even more.

We promise, too, to support one another through accountability and challenge.  We love one another so much that we don’t simply say, you’re beloved and well done for promising to follow Christ; we dare even to who each other accountable for the life to which we are called and to which we have committed ourselves.  And so we encourage one another in the daily practice of Christian living in order that our lives may daily reflect the beautiful light of Christ for the world.  We do this, too, through our teaching and modeling of the Christian life itself – for our littlest ones, but also for our teens and adults.  The word we speak to God is more that we can understand alone, and so we support one another by sharing and teaching what we have learned along the way and from the wise ones who have gone before us.  

Finally, we speak our word of support in the silence of our presence.  By simply showing up, we remind each other that we are here, that you are not alone.  And when we dare to extend our embrace, to a new friend or a stranger, we proclaim our love and God’s, and the first word is spoken again.

Today is an important day, filled with meaningful words all around.  

But don’t miss the most important three:

God’s word to you:  you are beloved.

Your word to God:  you are my God.

And your word to your neighbor – and your neighbors word to you: you are not alone.