Monday, February 8, 2010

Passing On What Was First Given To Us

There is something about a new baby that melts even the hardest and most cynical of hearts.
I believe it is that in new babies we see the promise of tomorrow.
When we are around babies there is the sense that all the wrongs can be righted because this new life has such hope and possibility.
I know as a parent I often project onto my children all my greatest hopes.
I hope they will someday grow up to help those in need, create beauty, and undo past injustices.
I hope they will be astronauts, lawyers, politicians, teachers, or play center field for the Boston Red Sox.
This Christmas I bought my son Charlie his first t-ball set in hopes that he will fulfill my dream of someday playing for the Boston Red Sox.
What we wonder when we see babies is what will they be?
They are filled with limitless possibilities.
Today is about those possibilities for Thomas Christian Forsberg.
It is about what will God make him to be as he grows in his faith?
All of the readings we read this morning are about the calling of people of God.
We read about the call of Isaiah, St. Paul, and Peter.
All of these people share that they felt unprepared for their calling.
But we remember them today as the pillars of faith.
We know Isaiah as the most important prophet of the Old Testament.
So important that he is quoted in the New Testament more than any other person in the Old Testament.
We remember Paul as a Saint and that Christianity never would have grown without Paul’s mission to the Gentiles.
We remember Peter as the greatest of the disciples and the Rock on which Jesus built the church.

Now we might be thinking that we are not like Isaiah, Paul, and Peter.
But I think we are.
We are under the wrong assumption that it is pastors, bishops, and really godly people that are the ones who serve God while the rest of us simply go on living overly sinful lives.
Notice what Paul says to the people of the church of Corinth that he “handed on to them as of first importance what I in turn had received.”
All Paul’s calling was about was helping others see Jesus in their lives.
And all of us are called to do the same with whoever is in our lives.
With all due respect to some of the Pastors I have had in my life my faith has been most affected by people who were not pastors.
It was shaped by many people that will not be remembered on any official church calendar.

First, my life of faith was shaped by my parents.
Neither of them where pastors.
My mom is a nurse, and my Dad sold lawn and garden supplies at Sears.
They are certainly not perfect people, but what I learned from them was that in the contexts of everyday life it is important to have faith in God.
I learned that when it is hard to the pay the bills God is there for us.
I learned that when we experience death our faith tells us that there is eternal life.
I learned that being faithful in marriage is more important than always being happy.
I learned that our faith shapes how we live and what we do.
This morning I hope that all of you who are parents realize how important you are to shaping your children in their faith life.
They might not always like it or want it, but someday they will thank you for passing on to them what you already know that Jesus died for us and rose again so that we too might have eternal life.
Christian and Kelly I know that you will pass on to Thomas your faith, and show him the importance of knowing Jesus as his Lord and savior.
I know that you will live up to the promises you make this morning to teach Thomas the foundations of faith.

But parents cannot do it alone.
I also was shaped by the community of believers in my home congregation.
I was shaped not only by the Pastor but by people who gave of their time to pass along what they knew about Jesus.
This week in our congregation we said good bye for now to Judy Hartgen.
Judy was a teacher.
Teaching was one of her passions.
And she touched many children with her love of God through her teaching.
Especially in congregations where she served as a Sunday School teacher.
Also, this week Pat Peters died.
I know that none of you know who Pat Peters is but she was one of my Sunday School teachers.
She was one of the people in church who would risk talking to me when I was a malcontented teenager.
She was in my book a great saint of God, and so was Judy Hartgen.
They were both people who lived their faith and took time to share it with others.
Today as we baptize Thomas we as a congregation must remember our responsibility to share our faith with him as he grows in his own faith.
We must remember to tell him that he is God’s special Child.
And someday when he is walking around church as a malcontent teenager we must remember to say to him.
I was there at your baptism, “God loves you a lot.”

Because someone did that for us.
Someone cared enough about us to share their faith with us and to pass it on so that we could become the person that God calls us to be.
Each one of us in our baptism is called by God to be something special in the world.
Today God calls Thomas Christian Forsberg to be his special child.
None of us knows for sure what that will be practically.
We don’t know if Thomas will be a teacher, a lawyer, a salesman.
What we do know is that whatever it is God will call him to do it as one of God’s children.

The same is true of each of us.
Each one of us here this morning is called by God to live out our Christian lives in the context of everyday faith.
We are called to preach the good news to the world.
I know you might be thinking what Isaiah, Paul, and Peter were thinking that you are not worthy or not good enough, or not strong enough, or not faithful enough.
But I tell you that it is not about you, it is about what God is going to do through you.
It is about God’s power to use your life to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes Baptisms are about how cute the baby is?
In Baptism something is going on much more important.
For in Baptism we are handing over to someone else what was given to us the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That is what is happening today for Thomas.
Thomas parents Christian and Kelly are handing over to Thomas what was first given to them in their Baptism that Christ died for our sins in accordance with scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day.
What this means that Thomas life will not be about what he will become.
Rather it will be about what God will make him into.

Today I want all of us to think about that.
What is it that God has made you into?
What is it that God is calling you to be?
How are you living out your faith every day?
How are you passing on what was first given to you?

When we answer those questions then we are able to not merely be salesmen, nurses, lawyers, business people, but we are able to be disciples, apostles, and prophets.
This is the life that we as the body of Christ pass on to Thomas.
We give him the life of Jesus Christ that calls him out to be something special.
We look at this baby and we see the hope of a better tomorrow.
Perhaps he will right some of the wrongs.
But the greatest thing he will ever do is be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The greatest thing he will ever do is pass on what was first given to him.

Let us go this morning and pass on what was given to us that Jesus Christ in accordance with the scripture died for our sins and was resurrected for our life.

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