(sermon by Grant Vissers)
Bit of a different Sunday for us at St. Paul’s Leaskdale church.
Baptism and BBQ happening on the property yesterday.
One of the many things I appreciate about our church atmosphere is that there is great sensitivity to those who have never entered the doors of a church. There are no strange and scary words used, there are no assumptions and there are simple explanations for what our pastor gladly acknowledges as “weird looking” from the outside. Chris and I brought some friends to church yesterday and the 13-year-old had never seen anything like baptism. I do believe he too used the word, “weird” in describing the experience – yet he loves coming to our church “because it feels really different and really good.”
You have to admit – baptism does looks strange – older and younger people sharing their story and then sitting in a kiddie pool, being dunked backwards, wrapped in a towel, hugged and anointed. Early accounts of baptism from people who were outside of the church made comments like, “they look like they’re drowning each other” and the idea of dying to the old self/raised to new life was very foreign.
So, our pastor took us on a little journey about the only label that really matters – CHILD OF GOD.
We live in a label-conscious society. Labels matter – what we’re supposed to think and do and look like and become.
Baptism is about a label too – a relationship with Jesus. Being “dunked” in the water is symbolic of turning away from the labels of this world and turning toward the one label that matters most.
The context of Matthew 3. 13-17 is that for 500 years, the prophets had been silent. Finally, God sent John the Baptist to prepare people for His coming and he baptized Jesus.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Matthew 3. 16,17
Jesus was God’s child. This was the most important label spoken over His life. Jesus hadn’t even done anything yet – His ministry was still to come. But He understood His identity.
He belonged to His Father.
Our pastor went on to explain that as a Christian, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or not done, God created you and the only label that matters is that you are a child of God.
You belong to Him.
And with you, He is well pleased – not in your performance or accomplishments. In you.
You are loved and fully accepted, just as you are.