Recall different names we use

by HelenB on January 23, 2013

January 13, 2013 ()

Bible Text: Luke 3:15-22 |

 

Recall different names we  use.

Here,  though, in this morning's reading from the Gospel of Luke, are words that not  only claim another but proclaim both love and delight in the being and the doing  of the other.  "This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased."   Jesus, no longer the child of last week's lesson but now a young man,  comes up from the waters of his baptism.  The skies are ripped open as when  lightning and thunder cuts through the clouds of a raging storm. The Word is  spoken as the Holy Spirit descends, as a dove, upon Jesus below.  The whole  family of the blessed Trinity is present.  The Son ascends to the bank of  the Jordon River, as do others there to make public witness of their repentance  of their sin.  But where they testify to their sorrow at aggrieving God,  the Son, separating the waters of the Jordon as long ago he separated the waters  of creation, inaugurates a new creation. The Father speaks the Word that claims  the man as his own. This is my Son, the Beloved.  The Word spoken is  love.  Love to form persons.   Love to bind those persons  together.  Love to empower them for a ministry of redemption.  The  world's redemption, long in the making, is begun.

The  ministry of redemption is not the result of humanity's yearning for lives free  of the bleak darkness of sin and death, nor is it the work of humanity's  hands.  Where God gave light we turned to darkness.  Where God gave  life we sought death.  We can only look at the mess we have made of our  lives and pray for the chance to begin anew.  God drives the ministry of  redemption.  It is his longing that we know the wholeness and peace he  intended for us, his creation, that is the heart of this ministry that  redeems.  For this ministry alone the Son became man, that in his life and  his preaching of the kingdom, in his death and resurrection, true light and true  life might be reborn and sin and death be put to death.

For  us and for our salvation he came down from heaven.  This is our witness in  the creeds we speak as one body every Sunday morning.  This is the Word  given us that we repeat, that we might be formed by God's intent as disciples  and as the body of Christ, the Church.  The love that is the truest  character of the Trinity - Father, +Son, and Holy Spirit - claims each of us as  we come up from the waters of baptism, and binds us together as one people, one  family, the family of God.

Though  naming customs differ from peoples to peoples, families have names even as  individuals do.  Naming is claiming.  The prophet Isaiah gave Israel  this comfort, that they were sons and daughters of him who called them by name,  who created them for his glory, who formed them and made them.  The name of  the family made by God in the waters of baptism is Christ. Christ has named us  and claimed us; made us and remade us for his glory and that of the Father.   As Christians we share the love of Christ, even as Christ shares that love  with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Love gives shelter, protects, and purifies.  "Do not fear," says the Lord God who has named us and claimed us, "for I have  redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass  through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not  overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame  shall not consume you."

The  penalty for our sin has been paid by the one who would have required it of us,  and we need not fear the fires of hell or even the fire of the Holy Spirit that  burns away the Old Adam or the Old Eve and refines our faith.  At the font  we have been named and claimed, washed free of sin, and promised future mercies  and life everlasting.  This God has done for us through Jesus Christ his  Son, in the Holy Spirit.  Daughters and sons of the promise, heirs of  eternal life, it is our duty and our joy to take the family legacy forward, to  love one another as the Father who has claimed us through his claimed Son loves  us, and to enter into the family business, the ministry of  redemption.

It  is way too easy to claim too little or too much for this ministry.  Claim  too much, and we mistake ourselves for God, thinking we may be gracious as he is  gracious, and that we might respeak his word, and remake his creation after our  own image.  Claim too little, and we refuse to get off our haunches,  thinking we may leave all up to God, even those aspects of the ministry of  redemption that he clearly places in our hands.

The  vocation of the family of God, named and claimed by him through his Son and the  Holy Spirit in the waters of our baptism is the sharing of the love of  Jesus.  How, we might wonder, are we to do this?  There is, after all,  some disagreement amongst us as to what it means to share Jesus' love.   Within a family, love is shared first in its naming and claiming.  You are  my daughter and I love you.  You are my wife, and there is nothing you  could ever do that would destroy my love for you.  A family shares rituals  which builds up their unity as a family, table grace, bath time games with the  children, a glass of wine with the spouse and quiet conversation before  bed.  Family members do things both small and large that demonstrate love,  everything from doing the dishes after dinner when it is someone else's turn to  do them to giving up a much loved possession to finance tuition for a semester  of college.   A family shares both the joys of life, and its  sorrows.  The members of a family are there to mark new births,  anniversaries of those births, and the last goodbyes given the beloved  dead.

The  family of God is that family spared the fear of death by God's life-giving, ever  forgiving love.  The love we share as Christians is marked by that  grace-filled, divine love.  We name one another and claim one another as  brothers and sisters, sinners justified as are we by the compassionate mercy of  our crucified God.   In grateful tribute to the mercy offered us, we  are a community characterized by our willingness to examine ourselves for sin  and to forgive our brothers and sisters theirs.  We gather with one another  around God's Word and his Supper that we might together hear the Word that saves  and receive the Bread that gives life.  We pray for one another as need  dictates, and to support one another when faith grows weak.  We celebrate  our family anniversaries and special days, days that bind us closer to God and  to one another, the rites of Easter and Christmas, the days commemorating saints  and martyrs.  We give of our gifts to support the ministry of redemption,  and those among us and in our community who are in need of help to cover their  needs.  We share Jesus' love with people who yearn for God's love, and meet  them at the baptismal font when that love encompasses them.  And when the  time comes, we meet again at the base of that font to bid them a loving farewell  and to commend them to the loving arms of their Lord and  Savior.

Our  Savior Jesus Christ walked into the waters of the Jordon River to be baptized,  not as a sign of repentance for his sin, for he had none.  He walked into  those waters to fulfill all righteousness, to signal to the Father his  willingness to take part in the fulfillment of the Father's plan for our  salvation.  He  walked out of those waters to begin that ministry, and  to gather together a people, a family, whose sins are cleansed by Word washed  water, whose faith is refined by the Spirit's purifying fire, and who are  promised eternal life.  This family, like any other, is to grow in numbers  and in grace, to the glory of God's holy Name.

A  Message from Rev. Paula L. Murray brought to you by  Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park  Street, Mountain View, Arkansas.  For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Taglauer email: [email protected].  A Pass it On  Project

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