May5SunMay 5, 2013
It struck me the other day, when I realized that many of you in the Confirmation class, I actually baptized, 14 years ago in 1999, when you were just barely born, squirming, gurgling sleeping or crying in my arms. Imagine that. From baptism to confirmation. Wow!
For all of you, your baptism marks that moment when we all realize how, in God’s eyes, you are amazing. You are so loved, even beyond what you’re ever able to comprehend… no matter your life or family situation, what’s happened to you in your past, or the interesting journey your life has taken, nothing can ever change how you are seen in the eyes of God. You can’t imagine.
In baptism, God looks upon you, and embraces you as God’s precious own, and you are made a member of the whole family of God, the worldwide Christian Church.
Water is the essential element always used in the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
And it makes sense why that is, as water connects symbolically with our spirituality and faith tradition.
First, water is everywhere. Scientists say that roughly 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.
Similar for the human body. Over 2/3 of our body is made up of water.
Just as water is everywhere, so the presence of God covers and embraces the whole world, with grace and mercy.
Secondly, water is so valuable, and precious to us. Scientists say that each of us needs about eight cups of water a day. They say that you can survive without food for about a month. But you can’t survive without water past three days.
How we need water. How valuable it is. And, how important it is for us to do whatever we can to protect our freshwater lakes and rivers, and make sure they continue to be that reliable source of water for us and all humankind.
So, just as water is precious, so are the ways of God as shown in Jesus Christ.
Imagine what the world would be like, if no one paid any attention to the message of God’s love in Jesus?
What would the world look like if brutal violence, wars, unfettered greed, grabs for power and self-serving interests were just running loose? If no one could trust anyone. It’s been said that even for the integrity of our banking system, there needs to be some level of trust between people.
What would our lives and the world be like if no one paid any attention to the example of Jesus, who poured out his life for the wellbeing of others, who showed us the way of a truly joy-filled, thoughtful and generous life in service to others, addressing their real and concrete needs?
What would the world be like without that treasure, that precious jewel of God’s love made real in Jesus?
The Good News of God’s love in Jesus, for all people, is so valuable, so precious, so basic to life, to the wellness of our lives, our economy, our politics, our society.
Water also changes things. Bringing life to wilting, dried out plants, for example. Water is life-giving and transforming.
So is the Spirit of God, who begins to transform us into more fulfilled, more joyful and generous human beings.
The true story of Millard Fuller is a great example.
For the longest time, for Millard Fuller, do you know what the greatest single most important goal in his life was? It was to make as much money as possible; to accumulate as much personal wealth as possible. That was it. That goal drove all his decisions, his imagination, his whole life.
But not all was well. Fuller later admitted how this goal of pursuing wealth affected his personal integrity, his health, and his marriage. When his wife, Linda, left him, and told him that his Lincoln, the large house, the cottage on the lake, the two speed boats, and the maid did not make up for his absence from his family, he realized what he had sacrificed for money.
It was at that low moment in his life, when he realized something was changing in his heart and mind. He began focussing less on himself, and more on others, more on living out God’s love for himself and others.
In 1976, Millard Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity, one of the most transforming forces in the world today, drawing on local volunteers to build houses for those who have need.
From someone who was once only focussed on himself, the Spirit of God transformed Fuller into someone focussed on others, living out the superabundant love of God for the whole world.
Water changes things, just like how the Spirit of God changes us from the inside out.
Finally, water always flows outward and downward. It’s always moving somewhere, and its direction is out and down. When rain or snow falls in higher elevations, up in the mountains, tiny rivulets of water gather strength as they trickle down to join other streamlets to cut channels through dirt and grass and even rock, joining with larger rivers, and then into lakes, and then finally flowing out into the ocean.
That’s the point of what the church’s mission and purpose is all about, isn’t it? To live out the love of God, in our families, in our workplaces, in public. To live out the peace, justice, compassion and truth of God in all aspects of our lives.
God calls us and sends us out, and scatters us out into the world, this way and that, to live out the love of God, in whatever job or vocation or occupation we may have – to live it out, sometimes where we would least expect.
One of the runners in the Boston Marathon last month was a medical doctor. She was running close to where the first bomb went off.
And in those terrifying, chaotic moments immediately following the explosion, when natural survival instincts prompted many to get as far away as possible from the mayhem, this runner, the doctor, she ran in the opposite direction, toward the direction of the explosion, concerned and ready to help those affected by the bomb.
And good that she did. She along with other first responders saved many lives by bringing immediate assistance that they desperately needed. She was one who lived out the self-giving love of God, risking her life, for the wellbeing of others.
Water flows out, and down to the lowest point. Often it’s in the lowest points of life, where the life-giving love of God can so make a real difference.
Today, we bless each of you, and pray that like water, each of you will be life-giving force in this world, living out in many and various ways, God’s presence and love which holds us, and surrounds, everywhere we go, for all time!