the one on the 12th day of Christmas...
January 6, 2020, 7:00 AM

Sermon from Sunday, January 5, 2020

Text: John 1:1-18

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus, the one who has come down; the Christ, will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, it isn’t very often that we get to celebrate this Sunday. It’s only every few years that we get to the second Sunday of Christmas. You see, tomorrow is the Epiphany of our Lord. Tomorrow is the day that we remember the wise men from far off who arrive at Jesus’ home and present him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

But, today. We get to celebrate the 12th and final day of the season of Christmas. And what better what to celebrate that than to remember our baptisms as we celebrate with Palmer Kopp as she is baptized and welcomed into the family of God.

As we enter this time of the new ‘Roarin’ 20s, I kept thinking about all the things that we do as a people as we enter any new year. We like to make promises.

Promises to ourselves. Promises to those around us.

We set goals. We dream dreams. When the calendar turns to January 1, the possibilities seem endless.

Some of those goals may be to become healthier. Eating less junk. Drinking less. Taking on new routines.

It may be setting aside deliberate time to read a book, read scripture, be in prayer each day and week of the new year.

It may be promising that we’re going to take things like school and work more seriously.

It may be striving to hit some athletic or artistic goal.

It may be finding those ways in our lives that might be used to honor, lift up, and advocate for those in need and whose voices go unheard otherwise.

You could be like my dad and just say you’re going to give up smoking and drinking – even though you’ve never smoked or drank alcohol in your life. Word of advice, don’t be like my dad. I’m actually surprised he hasn’t made that joke this year…yet.

All of us, it seems the entire world’s citizens, approach every new year the same way. We look at this new year and we desire and strive to make ourselves better in some way. To improve our life in the ways that we can.

And in all that fluster and buster of making new promises, goals, and life changes, we read this text from John’s gospel. One of the most wonderful and beautiful writings in all of our scriptures.

This eloquent prologue of how God has come down to be with us. These words that make us think of Genesis and the beginning of all things. There is so much hope and love and power in these words written in the opening verses of John’s Gospel.

This hope that God has been present with us all along. That Christ, our Messiah, has been spoken into this world from the very beginning. That no matter where we turn, where we’ve gone, where we go, the Christ has been here with us. Always.

This Word that radiates life and light. The light that pushes back the shadows. This life that cannot be snuffed out.

We get to hear this first promise – the promise of the presence, light, and love of God – on the day that we hear those other promises that are going to be made today.

Those promises made by Mary Alex, Robbie, their families, and each of us. Those promises that we will – together – help raise Palmer in the faith that has been passed down to us. Passed down to us by those who made promises for us, and who had promises made for them. Those promises that extend all the way back to those who immersed or splashed in the waters of the river Jordan. Those who washed themselves clean. Those who turned and re-turned towards the one who loves and created us all.

Those promises of bringing the Word of Scripture, the Creeds, and the Prayers to Palmer. Helping her see God at work in the world and how God works through her to bring life and hope to those around her. Helping her find her voice to proclaim God’s love and life as she sees those around her use their voices and actions to show God’s love and grace to the world.

We all get to be a part of that promise. We all get to be a part of raising her in this faith of promise and hope. We get to remind Palmer today and every day she is not alone.

There are quite a few who look at Baptism as something that we do to ourselves. We make promises and we work together so that God will remember us, keep us, and hold us tight. That we do these things so that God’s love will be bestowed upon us.

And frankly, I think that is rather sad. As I and Palmer’s great-grandfather say those holy words of ‘Palmer is baptized in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit’ we do so with the knowledge that we are participants in this holy work. We say those words and believe this action is not something that we do, but is something that we participate in with God.

For God here is the main actor. God here is the one who is ‘doing’ the work of baptism. We get to participate in this holy and humble moment.

The promises that we make – whether they be the promises that we make in this service of Holy Baptism today, or the promises that we make as we look to a new year – are never done alone.

We work together with one another and with God to make these promises known in our lives, and also to help us hold true to the promises we make.

Because no matter how much we promise this day, we’re still going to falter. There will be days and times that our voices and actions won’t show the love of God to others. There will be times where we will be too tired to teach the prayers, the creeds, and the commandments. There will be times that Palmer might not want to hear about these promises. There will be times that we don’t live up to the promises we make today.

It will happen.

Yet, our ability, desire, and stubbornness to live into these promises isn’t what makes baptism holy and central to our lives as people of faith. Our ability to teach well, lead well, advocate fiercely, and nurture thoroughly in faith isn’t what gives baptism its validity.

It isn’t about what we do.

No, it is about what God has done, is doing, and will do.

God is present in these waters. God is present in our lives. God has been there from the beginning. Speaking those words of love, living those words of action, inviting us into the life of faith through word and deed.

God is the one who makes baptism valid, holy, and central.

God is at work.

We make promises, we live into these promises, we live this life of faith because of what God has already done and continues to do.

God has come down to be with us. God has been birthed into the world. Christ has invited us into this life of new and radical faith and love. The Holy Spirit is here to guide us through it all.

We are able to live into these promises because God has already lived into the promise for us. God has declared us good enough. God has declared love for us. God has done it all.

We know this, because the heavens were ripped open and torn asunder so that God could enter into creation as one of us.

We are washed and claimed in the waters of baptism because God already loves us. Because God has already come to be with us. Because in God’s eyes we are already enough.

That’s what we hold on to as we move through the promises we make and remember today.

We start at already enough.

That’s where living into these promises begins. Whether it be the promises we make in service today, or the promises we make to improve or better our lives in this new year.

We are already enough.

Palmer. You are already enough in love.

Mary Alex. You are already enough in love.

Robbie. You are already enough in love.

People of God. Each of you are already enough in love.

God has come to be with us. God is with us. God is the light come down. God is the Word already present from the beginning. God is here.

Why? Because we are already enough. That’s where we begin. God’s love is with us already. Always. Amen.

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