Home > Uncategorized > Message for Weds Night in Easter 3, April 22

Message for Weds Night in Easter 3, April 22

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Exodus 34:29–35:21

The readings today don’t necessarily fit for a baptism but a baptism fits into a service not the other way around.  And that may not make a whole lot of sense because certainly the baptism here tonight of little Allie is the event that is definitely different from what we are normally do but it’s still the wrong way round to say that the baptism for Allie is the most important thing.  It is for her, she’s been baptized but the most important thing is that God is here to do it, and she can return, we can all return week after week to the Lord’s house to hear his Word and to continue to grow in what He’s begun in us, in Allie tonight.

But to tell the truth it doesn’t look like much, does it?  A bit of water, some religious sounding words, a ceremonial 1-moses-descending-mt-sinai-grangerwashing, we might say if we were feeling particularly spiritual.  But that’s about it.  Certainly nothing real, we’re tempted to think.  After all, when we think of actions worthy of the great God of the universe, we think of movements on a cosmic scale, plate tectonics and supernovas and galaxy creations across light years, not something simple like a bath, certainly nothing like a what might appear to be a man-made ceremonial washing.  We expect thunderbolts and lightening and dark clouds of his presence like the Israelites saw firsthand and which no one has seen since.  To put a twist on Groucho Marx’s old line, it’s a little hard for us to believe in a God that would have us as believers.

Sinners should have no place in the presence of a God worthy of our awe.  And yet we know God not only loves those who rebel against Him, He is long-sufferingly patient with them.  He is not like us.  We expect God to make humans His slaves and instead, the content of Jesus’ life and ministry is shows God sent His Son to enter the bondage of sin and death so that we might become His beloved ones, His daughters and sons once again.  We expect a powerful God to conquer His enemies.  Instead, the message of Good Friday is that His enemies conquer Him by nailing Him to a cross.  We expect to get what we deserve at the end of our lives.  Instead, the message of Easter is that we get what Christ earned for us in His resurrection, as we have life eternal just as He was raised from the grave.  We expect sinners to be cast out of His presence, not for our own sins to be washed away in a simple bit of water.

When Moses went up Mt. Sinai, he was baptized of a sort when He came into the presence of the Holy God.  The face of his skin shone like the sun.  What if God once again overpowered us with His might and His glorious presence?  Would it work this time?  It didn’t for Israel.  Those who beheld the glory of God could not bear it and asked Moses to veil his face.  And so God comes now in more ordinary, even hidden, ways.  Do not doubt there is any less the promise of God to be in water, and Word, and bread and wine.  There is nothing manmade about them; they all carry the first-hand mandate of the Lord.  Our Lord said make disciples by baptizing in the way we have done for Allie tonight and then teaching them to obey everything He commands and we’ve promised we’ll do that.  He explicitly directs His deeds be not just taught but declared to all.  Proclaimed.  People don’t pay attention much to proclamations these days from any quarter much more the Lord’s, but the mandate stands.   The bit with the bread and wine comes with explicit instruction, “Do this…in remembrance of all that I have done for you.”  And what the people could not handle in its full glorious power, they despise now in hidden form.

An ancient father of the Church said, “Our Lord bestowed great gifts through small means so that He might teach us of what they are deprived who have scorned the great things.  For if healing like this was secretly stolen from the hem of His garment, could He not all the more certainly heal when His word distinctly bestowed healing?”

And so a little bit of bread and wine, attached to the promise of His Word, carry with them His resurrected body and blood for healing and for peace with God and one another.  A mere man becomes the living voice of Jesus when his words are in accord with what the Lord has spoken.  A pouring of water, attached to instruction and the Name of God as He has revealed Himself become a lavish washing away of sin and recreative for life with God.  He does it.  He dies for His enemies and we experience peace with God and one another.  He makes us free by serving us.  God does great things with what seems to insignificant to our sin-veiled eyes.

And yet, He does it.  For Allie tonight, it is certain.  For you, to be sure.  For us all.  He has done it.  Go in peace.  Amen.

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