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"Baptized We Live" Sermon Text Oct. 12, 2008 "Baptized We Live" Sermon Text Oct. 12, 2008

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"Baptized We Live" Sermon Text Oct. 12, 2008

Posted on Fri, Oct 24, 2008

October 12, 2008
22nd Sunday after Pentecost
Gospel Text: Matthew 22:1-14
Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: 2‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. 4Again he sent other slaves, saying, “Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.” 5But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, 6while the rest seized his slaves, maltreated them, and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. 8Then he said to his slaves, “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” 10Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 ‘But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, 12and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” And he was speechless. 13Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 14For many are called, but few are chosen.’
So where is the “Good News” in this Gospel text?
How would you feel if you prepared a wedding feast for your son, you had spent tons of money, and the people who were expected to come, and were actually obligated to come, just turned their noses up at your invitation? And not only this, what if you were their king, the one responsible for all their protection, well being, and keeping order and justice. Your responsibilities for them is great, but instead of joining you in your celebration, or even being a little bit thankful, they went back to mundane things that they would have to do on any other day! Not only were they rude, they showed utter disrespect to you and your family. And what about all that food? The text states that the king slaughtered oxen and fatted calves; these animals were very expensive. The oxen were work animals that were very expensive, and the calves were raised for just such a once in a lifetime feast, and because the people just walked away from the invitation, all that food went to waste! The king was a little disappointed in his subjects… they certainly had proven themselves unworthy of being invited, or even considered “subjects” again.
So, if the rich, who were too busy to attend the kings party were not allowed back into the kings home, that left the poor, and the people who didn’t even have enough money to purchase a proper wedding, or party cloak… these were the people the king would invite… and being a king who stuck to tradition, the king provided the proper clothing as the poor had nothing. And then, after going out and being careful to only invite the poor, did you notice who had the nerve to crash the party? He was one of the persons who were more interested in himself and his business than the kings’ original invitation. Somehow he found a way to get into the kings party to scrounge some goodies for himself, but because he wasn’t wearing a cloak the king had given him, he stood out in the crowd and was busted. Certainly he had heard about what had happened to the first group… but he still crashed the party after he knew that he had disrespected the king, and therefore dishonored the king; therefore, when he was busted, there was nothing he could say for his behavior, and he was cast out.
This is not a text that is to be used to help us judge who is allowed into the Kingdom of God, Heaven, or cast into some kind of eternal abyss. But it certainly is a text to tell us that once we know that we have been chosen, we are to take this invitation very seriously. We are to respond to this invitation, treasure this invitation and let the invitation be a true source of blessing.
Today we are Re-affirming our baptism.
Some people think that Lutherans don’t know much about baptism because we don’t dunk people, or have Jacuzzi fonts in our sanctuaries. It is as if the amount of water has something to do if whether the promise of Baptism will be valid or not. Nothing could be further than the truth. In fact, it is the promise of baptism that can be one of the most important means for us to maintain faith, hope and even joy, during difficult times.
First, let us look at the basics of baptism. The word “baptism,” comes from the Greek word, “baptizo” which means, “to dip.”
People were ritually cleansed in mikveh’s before entering eating places or places of prayer. John the Baptizer baptized people to cleanse them of their sins and point them back to a life with God following the Law of Moses.
But what about Jesus and his requirement to be baptized? Jesus even says that the scriptures say that it was necessary for him to baptized! What big sin did Jesus do? Nothing!
But for whose benefit was Jesus baptized? It was for the people standing around him, for when he came up out of the water God said, “this is my son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Jesus was baptized so that we could hear from God himself, that Jesus was God’s only son, and we are to listen to him! Jesus’ baptism was for the sake of the people standing around Jesus. They learned the real identity of Jesus through his baptism. We learn our identity through baptism. Through baptism we become a Child of God, and no one can take that promise away from us!
Baptism is a sacrament; there is a physical element to it, and a spiritual element to it. Communion is our other sacrament, and through both sacraments, GRACE is bestowed through a promise, the Word, and a physical element, water, bread, or wine.
There is a 100% physical element, and a 100% spiritual element. Jesus was 100% physical, but at the same time God!
Think about your baptism, maybe you can’t remember your baptism, I can’t, but that doesn’t matter. When we are baptized, we received the greatest gift of all, our true identity.
Even as babes, and don’t tell me kids don’t sin, I see it everyday here, every kid will hit, sass, lie/fib, or whatever even though they are the cutest things in the world! The point is that at baptism, God enters our life, adopts us as an heir to the Kingdom of God, and promises to be with us forever! And nothing can take that away from us.
Even if we have gone down the wrong path, our identity as a Child of God doesn’t change.
So what does that mean for us in these times? There are times in our life when we hear things that we do not want to hear, “Your loved one is ill,” “You have a little white spot on your lung, and we need to get a better look at it,” “the nest-egg you have been working on and now relying on for your retirement has taken a beating,” “your kids are in trouble…”
Your pick the phrase you are most afraid of, I know for a fact there are many more phrases like these out there…
But through the promise of Baptism, we learn that no matter what is going on around us, we have been made “heirs of the Kingdom of God;” what does this mean? It means that through baptism our old life of hopelessness, weakness and fear has been put to death, just as Jesus was put to death; but through faith there is a new ‘you’ a new ‘me’ that lives with Jesus and all the hopes and promises that Jesus has given us through faith!
Paul writes in Romans 8:
31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.*35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(36As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’) 

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The greatest joy I still have is when my children hold my hand when we walk. Andrew is too cool for this now, but Kai will sometimes hold my hand when we walk, and when we hold hands, it is my heart that sings! When times are difficult, or when times are good, when we turn to God in trust and faith, we find peace, and God’s heart sings. God is love, and God is alive, and God’s heart sings when we ask God to hold our hand, or to hold our heart, hold our hopes or hold our dreams.

Baptism helps us to understand our true identity as “children of God,” and once you are a child of God, you are always a child of God and God will never let go of your hand. Amen.

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