Sermon: January 8, 2016

Posted on Posted in Sermons

Scripture: Isaiah 42:5-9; Matthew 3:13-17
Title: Pure Promise

**Sermons are meant to be heard – not just read – so listen along here!**

Before we get going any further this morning, I think it’s important to acknowledge that Jesus’ baptism and our own baptisms are not the same thing.

We are not Christ. We are baptized into Christ.
In our baptisms we join our lives with Christ.  
So since Jesus can’t be baptized into himself, can’t join his life to himself, there is obviously another reason for Jesus to come to John and ask to be baptized.
John even knows that Jesus doesn’t need baptism in the same way everyone else does –
He says “Um – no Jesus.  You should be baptizing me, not the other way around.”
But Jesus says that this is the way it has to be – so people know and understand.
People were wondering and questioning whether or not Jesus was the promised King, the savior they had been waiting for, and his baptism and subsequent acknowledgment by God is what was needed.
Jesus goes into the water in order that people recognize him for who he is.
Just in case there is any doubt.
And as he gets baptized the skies open up and the voice of God tells all of those around him that yes, this is the one they are waiting for.
Jesus is who you are hoping he is.
And , God says, he is beloved.

Remember Jesus hasn’t done anything yet.
His ministry as the Savior hasn’t yet begun.
I like to imagine he threw temper tantrums like any other two and three year old. He added some sass into the mix around elementary school age, and developed a sullen attitude during his teenage years.
And still – he is called beloved.

Our baptisms, though different, are still important too.
Not to be named as the long awaited savior, as much as we may wish that to be the case, but because we need what baptism brings us.

When I sit at my desk – there are a few things in my field of vision that are reminders as I work and write and read and plan.
The first – is called the “Girl Power Manifesto” buy Jennifer Pastiloff.
It goes:
I promise to not be a jerk to myself (ok it doesn’t say jerk but we’re in church so)
Heck (also not what it says), I promise to love myself.
I will remember that my self-worth is not based on what I look like,
How much I weigh,
How many followers I have,
Or any other stupid crap that has nothing to do with who I am.
I will empower other girls and women.
I will be kind. Fiercely kind.
I will have a sense of humor.
I will do my best not to gossip, create drama, or judge others (or myself).
I will remember that just because I’ve had a bad day,
Doesn’t mean I have a bad life.
And even on the crappiest days, I will remember this:
I am enough.

Then, if I turn my head to the right – just above my phone, I see this sign:

You are Always Enough.

And then, for all those times when I’m NOT in my office, I have this: (pic)

Yeah. I put the ultimate reminder of my enough-ness on myself.

There’s a reason I have all of these things around me and on me at all times.
It’s because the rest of the time, the world is trying to tell me that what I am, what I do, how I look, who I know, is more important than who God has told me I am.
All the time.

Matthew 3:17 – And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Oh so many lovely words to dig into here – God calls Jesus his beloved – and the word there in Greek is agapetos – coming from the root agape which means unconditional love. So agapetos means unconditionally loved. God is naming Jesus his unconditionally loved Son.
But agapetos can also mean worthy of love.
Worthy of love.

Author Rachel Held Evans says that “baptism doesn’t make you a child of God, it merely acknowledges your existing belovedness”
Jesus didn’t begin to be loved by God at his baptism, it was an acknowledgement of something that already existed.

So baptism does give us something – but it’s not something on checklist or some kind of requirement.
It’s an identity.
A name.
A new name.
The only name we need.
Baptism is a naming.
We are named child of God and that is enough.
Hear me say it.
That is enough.

The world is going to try to tell us differently.
OH will it.
Just today, walking out of this place, I will be told I’m not pretty enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not rich enough, not powerful enough, not popular enough,
not enough…

My 6 year old is in 1st grade and in this first half of the year alone, she’s come home to tell us that someone told her that her head is too big, she’s fat, she’s not smart, she isn’t a good draw-er,
I mean geeeez. We start em young.
And these messages get into our minds and create doubts that carry all the way well into adulthood:  and they all say one thing.
Who you are on your own is not enough.
You need to do more.
Be better.
Try harder.
You need to be like everyone else.
You are not enough.
We forget.
We have been claimed and named beloved and we forget.
All the time.

Martin Luther said that we need the daily reminder of our baptism, and even though social media wasn’t a thing in the 1500s, he understood that the world is always going to tell us that we are not enough. And he knew that there was only one thing that could fight against it.
Our identity as children of God.

So today – we are going to have a time of remembrance.
This is to remember the promise you have been given.
The name of beloved.
The acknowledgement of who you have always been and always will be.
And we need it.
All the darn time.
So today we’re going to come forward at the guidance of the ushers and receive a cross on our forehead, and hear the words spoken to us: You are a beloved child of God.
And we’ll let that be enough.
So let’s say it together, before we hear it spoken individually –

I am a child of God, and I am enough. (say it)

Again, this time with your eyes closed:  I am a child of God, and I am enough.


You are a child of God, and you are enough.
So do we LIVE freely in that promise.
But we don’t stop there.
We can’t stop there.
Our Gospel text ends today with this promise of God that is revealed in baptism, but it goes on from this place, and this is not where Jesus stops either.
He doesn’t spend a lot of time just reveling in the promise he’s been given.
The new identity.
He goes out into the wilderness.
And is immediately confronted with all the messages and identities the world wants him to take on instead.

Same with us.
We might be feeling pretty great right now.
We’ve been renewed in our own identity as a beloved child of God.
But we’re going to walk outside and immediately be bombarded with everything telling us that being a child of God is not enough.

And it is.

You’ve been uniquely created and uniquely gifted by a loving God and called beloved.
That will never ever change.
You can’t lose it, it doesn’t go away.
But we have a choice.  

We can spend our lives trying to be good enough for the world. or we can be who we are created to be. 

I know which one I am going to choose – how about you?

One more time let’s say it – I am a child of God, and I am enough.