July 5, Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Baptism of Albert John Murphy Gill

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Ezekiel 2:1-5, Mark 6:1-13

Bryan Cones

Well, Albie, before we finish what we started just a few minutes ago and baptize you, it’s my job to tell you something about what your mom and dad and godparents and all of us together are signing you up for in your baptism. Lucky for me—and you don’t know this now, and probably won’t believe it in about 13 or 14 years—you parents are both wise and brave. And since they are the ones who will be leading you the most in this Christian way, I thought I would share with you what they told me about why they wanted to bring you to church to be baptized.

The first thing they said, and it’s very wise, is that they wanted to pass on to you a sense of awe and wonder about this world we live in and of which you are a part. It is special to them to have you baptized outside, here by our big lake, Lake Michigan, which reminds us of all the great waters that God created at the beginning of everything,  and called them all very good. We all come from these holy waters, and so do you, and so it makes sense that we use water to begin our life as Christians, to affirm that we come from God’s good creation, and that all creation shares in the promise of life and blessing in Christ that we celebrate in baptism. They also remind us that creation is the very first way that God speaks to us, and so with eyes of faith we see all nature as full of the glory and grace of God.

The second thing your parents told me—and this is how I know they are brave—is that they don’t know how to do this alone, they don’t know how to nurture you to fullness by themselves. Now it turns out that in addition to being a part of God’s household, you are also a citizen of the U.S., and while there’s good things and bad things about being a part of this country, one of the bad things is this terrible idea that we are supposed to do everything on our own, that it’s somehow possible to live our lives and raise our families, and flourish without help from other people. So it’s a pretty brave and wise thing to admit that we need each other.

And so your parents have brought you here to us: We’re called the church, and we agree that we need each other, and especially all of our differences of age, and culture, and color and language and ideas, to become the people God is calling us all to be. And the church is a lot bigger than just us here, and there are many ways to be church, and many ways to be a family,  and many way to be a human being, and here together we do our best to learn from all of them, because we agree with your parents that we don’t know how to do this on our own.

And the last thing your parents want to give you is a story, one that we in the church all share. In the first place it’s the story of a people, the people of Israel, and how God made them a people and led them to freedom, and taught them how to live together. That first reading today from Ezekiel is from their story, part of which is the struggle about just how to be faithful. And we’re all working on that pretty much all the time.

The second part of the story is about a person named Jesus. Those of us who follow his way—and you are about to become one of us—see in the way he lived and died and rose again, what God looks like as a human being, and so Jesus is the way we become the kind of people God has made us to be.

There’s a lot more that I could tell you about him, but you may be getting bored already. What I will tell you is that he told all of us that small people like you, teach us how to follow the way of God more closely. I think that’s because you remind us how to look at the world with new eyes, full of awe and wonder, and that we need each other not only to survive but to flourish, and that the best stories are the ones we tell over and over.

So, Albie, we are really grateful that your parents brought you to us today to be baptized, because you remind us of why we have chosen this way to live, and we are all at your service as you begin this journey.  So if your parents still want to have you baptized, and I know we want to baptize you, then let’s all stand together and renew the Baptismal Covenant that is the beginning of our life together and our guide along the way.