Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Baptism - Letting Go

OK - - how about another theme/take on the baptism or maybe even a furthering of some that have been mentioned? I've been reading around (particularly Will Willimon at Pulpit Resource)

I like this thought I read about baptism being about letting go. The pastor who baptized my son a year ago talked about this, now that I'm thinking about it, in relation to God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.

Another background piece for me is that in these stories that we get in several different gospels, it's important to me to sort of preach the differences. Or maybe I should said it's important for me to find my little sermon nugget in the differences. Mark had a particular slant on the story for a reason, and that's where I like to find my key piece instead of just preaching about Jesus' baptism in general.

OK so one of the unique parts of Mark is that this happens first. There's no birth story, there's no prologue with theology and history. It's just "This is the gospel" boom there's this guy John and boom Jesus gets baptized.

The baptism is the start of the important part of Jesus' life (for Mark) and essentially, everything that happened before that is just "let go." (For Mark) It's not even written down.

Baptism is where Jesus finds out (maybe he knew before maybe he didn't, another discussion for another day) who he is, who loves him, and is then "let go" to do his "business." But he isn't let go on his own. He is let go with Spirit upon him, God's words in his ears, and, if we read further, with the angels of God waiting on him (v. 13 in the wilderness temptation).

So, to relate to the baptism we will celebrate in our worship - - it's about letting go. It's about being named and claimed as God's child for God's work, but it's also about letting go. In this case, an infant baptism, it's about the parents letting go and letting God hold on. It's not about just throwing the kid out there and saying whatever happens happens because we do make promises to lead the child and teach the child the way of God and nurture the child in God's love, but it's about the fact that ultimately, we the parents (and we the church) will have to let our baptized children go to trust God and follow God's call and claim on their own lives someday. And if we (parents and the church) have done our job, that letting go (that trusting we need to do that God can do it not only as well as we can, but better) will be a little less difficult because we know we have lived and shared our faith that the God who speaks order out of chaos is the God who speaks in our ears and the ears of our children, "You are my son. You are my daughter." God who creates out of nothing is the same God who will be with them and us, ALWAYS. This powerful and majestic and ordering God will be holding on where we can't anymore.

OK - - I like the idea, and I like the teaching/comforting/expository stuff. I just feel like I'm missing a mission or a "Go! Do!" I think that's OK every once in a while, but last week sort of felt that way, and having not preached for almost a month, and really not having a sermon in our worship for that time (darn Christmas musicals) it feels like none of us have heard some of that for a while.

Maybe there's still room for some of that.


Margaret said...

I like it! In the baptism service, godparents and parents have three renunciations and three I do's, signifying a turning (or the baptisand if s/he is old enough to speak for self). Letting go of wickedness and taking on Christ. Then the Covenant asks a whole series of statements about how we will live as Christians but we don't make the same "I do" affirmation. Instead, we say "I will with God's help." And I think that is another indication of our need to let go. With God's help is the critical part of each statement, isn't it?
I did talk some about giving up control last Sunday - don't has me now how it was relevant but it's what came out when I opened my mouth - so your letting go affirms that lesson once again. I wonder if all the Epiphany gospels do? I suppose I ought to look, eh? ;-)

Rev Nancy Fitz said...

you have me thinking. we baptize when someone is old enough to make a decision. and they are are 3 questions. One has to let go when we commit to someone else (Jesus) we have to let go of our control and trust in someone else. hmmm. thanks