That you may grow into salvation…
Mackenzie came to me with a homework assignment this week. The assignment was to interview me (a parent) and ask what one belief or tenet I try to live my life by and would want her to remember as she goes through life. What would you have said? It is difficult to boil it down to one statement, but this is what came to me on Wednesday evening: God is love.
The other Saturday Jansen, Hollyn and I went out to plant garden. We got the seeds, worked the soil and planted green beans, zucchini and carrots. I have been wondering how all the rain we have had will effect what we planted. We watch and wait and trust.
In many ways it is the same with our baptism. Like seeds going into the ground, in a new way today each of you is expressing a desire to be planted in the soil of God’s love. Baptism reminds us that like seeds, we must die with Christ so that we may be raised with him in newness of life (Romans 6:4). Baptism is a sign of entering into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We watch and wait and trust for the new life that will emerge.
Hear these words from Isaiah 43 (1, 4). “I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious in my sight, and I love you.” Today, you are expressing your yes to God’s love. As you remember your baptism, may you remember that you are rooted and grounded in God’s love.
Richard Rohr has a book that has just come out entitled: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. He says there are two major tasks in the human spiritual journey. The task of the first half of life is to answer some central questions. “Who am I?” “What makes me significant?” “How can I support myself?” “Who will go with me?”
You are in the first half of life. As you live into these questions, may you be rooted and grounded in God’s love.
A second word that comes out of our scripture text is this. Even as you are baptized today, you will continue to grow into salvation.
2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual
milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation… (NRSV)
Last Sunday we gathered together as a community for the dedication of Ava and Faith. It wasn’t too long ago that each of you was being dedicated to God by your parents. Each of you has grown so much since then. You will continue to grow. As you begin a new stage of your life today these words from 1 Peter are good ones to hear and remember.
How will you grow into your salvation? Where will you find pure, spiritual milk?
We trust that your faith will continue to be nourished at home, with the friends that surround you and here in your church family. Through your baptism you are expressing a new level of commitment to tend to the practices which will cultivate faith, hope and love in you. So today we would like to give you a gift to help you in this task.
Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals is a prayer book that has a daily rule of prayer, scripture reading and other readings which will introduce you to the broader family of believers throughout the world and throughout history. May the practices of prayer and scripture reading keep you rooted in God so that you may bear Christ-like fruit in the world.
A third and final word that I want to lift out of our scripture reading has to do with finding your place in the church–the household of faith.
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to
offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Life has a way of teaching us that we are not in control. No matter how successful we are, we learn that authentic being comes as we allow ourselves to be built into something that is much bigger than ourselves. As we have been talking about through0ut catechism, it has to do with seeing how our story connects with God’s story.
You are blessed to be a part of a church family that has been a fertile womb for faith to be born in you. So many gifts surround you in your families, in your faith community. Let yourselves be built into this house. It’s a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms…all over the world. It is a house full of the stories of those who have walked before us as ordinary radicals.
Yesterday, as a part of our Leadership Team retreat, we did an examen of SMC. We sought to be attentive to God among us in places of consolation and desolation. One of the points of gratitude is that we are being built together with holy people who have modeled faith, hope and love over many years.
I was in the community the other Tuesday, talking with a man who had grown up in Sunnyside and lived here many years. He was asking about Leroy Bowman. I hear that many times. When folks think about Sunnyside Mennonite Church, they think about the people who have let themselves be built into a spiritual house. People who have served as holy priests by visiting and caring for neighbors, doing woodworking projects at kids club in the church basement.
Over lunch, I heard the story of how the door opened for Rich and Bonnie to move to Birmingham, Alabama for college and service. It was a story of trust and God’s provision—of letting themselves be built into a spiritual house which extended beyond Lancaster County and proximity to family. As you let yourselves be built into the household of faith, you will be called to trust God’s leading into new places.
Today we give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses at Sunnyside and beyond who help mark this path for us.
Ellie, Emma, Heather, Jeremy, Mackenzie, may God richly bless you on this day and in the days ahead. As you are baptized may you be rooted and grounded in God’s love, so that you may grow into salvation. May you continue to let yourselves be built into the household of faith. Today we celebrate your decision to be baptized and with joy commission you for ministry in the church and in the world.
We pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. AMEN.