Traditional Sermon Baptism Of Our Lord
Last weekend the Teichmann family took down the Christmas tree. I do so enjoy going out and finding a tree as a family, decorating it and enjoying it. And at the end of the season I do so love taking it down!
One of my favorite parts of decorating and undecorating is revisiting the ornaments. We had a chance to say goodbye to those ornaments last week. As Elsa and Erik took ornaments off the tree they would hand them to me to find a safe place for them in our ornament box. It gave me some time to look at those old friends a little more closely.
Two caught my attention this year.
One was a mother holding her child. This ornament was given to me the Christmas before Elsa was born. As Elsa was born 2 days after Christmas it was an appropriate gift–an ornament of its kind that I had never received before–marking a new stage in my life and the beginning of hers.
The other ornament was a preschool special. It’s a green Christmas tree entirely made of Elsa’s thumbprint. This ornament was created last year, and I found myself staring at the fingerprints that already looked so small compared to the growing 5 year old who was handling glass ornaments.
Yeesh–she’s handling the glass ornaments!
But staring at those little fingerprints on an ornament–a time capsule of sorts. Her fingerprint won’t change, but the size of it will. It will grow as she grows. I found myself looking at that little ornament and placing my fingerprints on top of hers.
How so much bigger mine were! They’ve grown too.
I use my fingerprint everyday…I use it to open up my smart phone.
One touch of a fingerprint and I can call anyone, order anything online, and update everyone I know about life happening right now.
My fingerprint is also the key to my past.
At St. Peter’s church leaders who work with the vulnerable get background checks. I remember 3 years ago getting fingerprinted for the first time. My fingerprint tells others where I’ve been or hopefully the case–not been.
Our fingerprints are with us all our lives…they tell of us our past and they can be entry into our present, but what about our future? Well, that’s where God’s fingerprints come in.
We look to our Scripture and we see God’s fingerprints all over it.
The psalm we just heard-Psalm 29-describes God’s voice being over the water and God’s very presence forming and reforming the world around us. I’m reminded of Psalm 98 where the psalmist describes nature and rivers clapping their hands for the handiwork of the Lord. Our first reading from Isaiah 43 speaks of God forming us, creating us, redeeming us, and guiding us through all walks of life.
We hear about the baptism of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke.
Luke has told us about the birth of Jesus.
He writes of angels singing, of shepherds approaching and running to share the good news,
Luke describes to us his mother Mary being blessed, and of this child formed in her womb.
A child born to be a Savior. A child, who in our Scripture this day, is a grown man.
And this grown man, this Savior, Jesus–approaches the river Jordan to the man known as John the baptizer. He and many others are being baptized that day.
This is Jesus’ initiation day.
The day he begins his Father’s ministry.
And God the Father’s fingerprints are all over this day. Like God’s hands throwing back the cumulus curtains on a brand new day. The Holy Spirit bursting forth and the announcement
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
God’s fingerprint t-brushing the forehead of Jesus, readying him for the day and for the journey of being Savior.
That holy fingerprint…filled with Spirit.
The same fingerprint brushed your forehead at your baptism.
With water, and word, Spirit and words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” And with oil the pastor marked your forehead, “you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, marked by the cross of Christ forever.”
God’s fingerprint upon you and with you–calling you into the future.
If like me, you were baptized as a baby, your parents would have answered questions and gave promises. Perhaps you were baptized when you could answer for yourself. Either way the questions asked and promises given is an invitation into the future. God’s future for you.
Back to those fingerprints.
I remember how little Elsa’s fingers were when she was baptized. She was so small, and the promises that her parents were giving seemed so big. We were being asked to be guides, guardians, and mentors to her.
We were still trying to figure out how to use diapers!
We were still negotiating sleep…or lack thereof!
And now we were being asked to be guides in her future?! God’s future and hope for her were in our hands…where time, reality and responsibility seemed to be slipping through our fingers. At the time it felt so overwhelming. Everything was overwhelming.
It still is.
And the parents out there, I know what you’re thinking… “Just wait till she’s…” insert whatever life phase you’re in right now and the challenges you are facing. Yep… each phase of life has its unique challenges, doesn’t it?!
We can look at our own hands, our own fingerprints and wonder if we have enough in us to touch our children. If we have the handiwork to effect our environment and live out as servants of God.
Our hands seem so small. Our fingerprints so inconsequential. And yet… yet God blesses them.
Thus says the Lord, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
The Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 139, “you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
Including those fingerprints.
Something that I recently learned about fingerprints is that they’re formed by the 17th week of pregnancy. In fact, our fingerprints are formed by what touches or impacts us. Each print unique indicating how we’ve been imprinted upon.
You knit me together in my mother’s womb. God’s fingerprints all over our own.
Speaking of God’s handiwork, scientists have studied the fingerprint shape and have witnessed the form of fingerprints all throughout creation. The poet in me likes to think of it as God’s fingerprints. This shape found in the ripples of sand dunes, the stripes on fish, the patterns in clouds or even upon wings.
Holy fingerprints–God’s handiwork–is indeed all around.
Looking at those little fingerprints on that ornament, I’m witnessing a piece of God’s handiwork…when we gather together we are witnessing the ways that God touches us–our past, our present, our future.
Touched and blessed to be mentors and leaders–we have the fingerprints of God guiding us and calling us into the future.
Because of Christ, we are children of the heavenly Father.
Because of our baptism into Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we’re blessed.
Because of Christ, these words from God are for you:
“You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Can we all do something… I want us all to take a moment.
Look at one of your hands.
God has touched them.
Imprinted upon them in the womb.
Blessed and impacted upon by the Holy Spirit.
God is calling to them– your fingers, your hands, your heart, your muscles, your brain. Calling to you. Beloved.
What ways can you make an imprint and bless–
bless your kids,
bless your spouse,
bless your neighbors
How will you leave a mark as God has left a mark on you?
Sealed with the Holy Spirit marked by the cross of Christ forever. Amen