Sunday, January 2, 2011
Today in our worship, after the water that baptized you fell on your precious head, we heard about the wise men who went to see another precious baby. We heard about how they came from some other land in the east because they had seen a star in the sky that was fit only for a king. Wondering, waiting, intrigued and inspired they left on a journey to find the precious life the star announced.
We don't really know from where they came or what their lives were like, but something pulled them away from their homes, their friends, their families to travel far away in search of the unknown. They must have REALLY NEEDED to find something. They must have longed so deeply for the king whose gifts they bore. They must have longed so intensely that they knew it would be true. They must have had hope.
Hope is a word we can toss around pretty casually. Sometimes I say I hope my favorite TV show isn't a rerun tonight. Other times we hope our football team will win. But real hope is something completely different. It's more than a wish; it's an action. REAL hope is longing for something promised so much that you're willing to act on it even before you have seen it come true. REAL hope is following a star to find a king.
Real hope is baptizing a precious child. What a blessing it is to start this new year with your baptism, Ruby! By your birth we can be sure that God has not given up on the world. God has chosen to continue to bring new life among us. You are a symbol of God's promise to each of us. You are a sign of God's covenant, God's promise to nurture and redeem life, not destroy it. You are a sign of the new hope for the future that God has made possible in the world. There is still hope for tomorrow.
That's why we baptized you. It was our way of following a star. We long for what God has promised, that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. We long for what God has promised, that God's promises are for us and for our children and for our children's children. We long to be called children of the light. We long to be welcomed into God's loving arms even when we have turned away and squandered the lives we have been so graciously given. We long for a loving king, a gentle shepherd, a compassionate teacher who draws us in, guides us, and teaches us in the way we should go. We long to be adopted into the family of God with Christ our brother.
Your baptism put our longing into action, Ruby. Your baptism was our bold declaration that we believe what Scripture says about God's promises are true. We told you and we told the world that you belong to God, that even before you can respond in faith, God has chosen you to be a princess in the divine kingdom, to inherit the grace and riches of God. God has chosen you to be God's child. Your baptism was a celebration of our hope, our holy longing to be a part of what we know is true even if we can't always see it clearly right now. Your baptism was your public entrance into people of God and the demonstration of our hope for you and for the world.
We hope for you, Ruby, that you will experience God's love. We hope for you, Ruby, that you will feel accepted in Christ's church. We hope for you that you will find delight in God's grace, that you will praise Christ's glory, that you will be led by the Spirit to serve others in the world. We hope for you that you will trust in God's mercy, know God's forgiveness, and share God's love in your life. We baptized you because we long for the day when you will know this is true, and we are promising to do everything we can to make that day come soon.
Ruby, we baptized you because we love you. We all promised to show you that love by sharing that which is the most precious gift we have, our faith. Your parents promised; your godparents promised. This entire church promised for ourselves and for any other church you may know in all your days. We all promised that we will put our longing into action, we will teach you about God and share the love of Christ with you.
Today we followed a star. Today we stepped out in faith on the promises of God, and we claimed those promises for you. Someday you will have the chance to follow your own stars, to act on your own longing to know and to be known, to love and to be loved by God. As you journey toward that day, our prayers and our love and our support are with you. That is what we promised.
In Christ's holy name,