The Service at St. Marks this last Sunday was our KidsZone (Sunday School) service. We also had a baptism. this short message draws together aspects from those events with the epistle lesson for the day, from romans 5, and especially verse 6: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (emphasis mine)
RO 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Today in Dalby another child has been given a relationship with God. He was not able to do anything about it. He was not able to help, and there is the wonder of it all. Because it was while we were powerless Paul says, just like a baby ourselves, with regard to our faith, that Christ died for us.
What would a holy God want with sinners? And yet, that is exactly who he wanted. He wanted us, not because we were lovable or special, but he loved us anyway, and that love made us lovable. His son Jesus was willing to die for us, even when we were his enemies. Who would do that? When someone dies for their friends, we call it the ultimate sacrifice, and in war we award medals for it. But who would die for their enemy?
We don’t understand the way that God works.
He gives life to all people, whether they love him in return or not. Through the water he gives life. Feed for animals, crops to sell. Life in this world. Whether they believe in him or not.
And through the water of baptism God gives life in him as well, right when we were powerless to do anything about it. That is how much God loves us. Is there a more wonderful image than God taking a tiny child in his arms and saying “I love you, you are mine.”?
This is the deep, deep love of God. He doesn’t demand a commitment from us before he loves. In fact, when he started loving us, we were not able to give him a commitment that we would love him in return, and he loved us anyway. He loved us knowing that some would NEVER love him in return, and he loved us anyway. What an amazing, deep, deep love.
The time will come in the life of every baptised child of God, as it does for everyone, when they will need to decide whether they return that love or not, whether they believe in the God who loves them and has forgiven them, just as if they had always been friends.
That is why we need to teach children about the God who has given them life in their baptism, about the God who loves them. It is only when they know what as been done for them, that they can decide whether to love God in return.
That is why we have a baptismal certificate, and a candle, so that we can light it on the anniversary of the day of their baptism and remind them of what happened, when God adopted them as his beloved child. We are robbing them of the chance to respond to God’s love, if we do not tell them what he has done for them, while they were still powerless.
Have you ever seen someone walk through life having complete peace with God? It is a beautiful thing even though it does not always look any prettier on the outside. There are those I have known with sicknesses, tragedies in their lives, and pain from one thing or another. But they don’t complain about their own lives. Instead, they always worry about others and their problems. They don’t accuse others when anything goes wrong in their own lives, but they rely on God. They don’t have to compete with everyone else to make them feel better about themselves, because they know that God is happy with them, and that is enough for them.
They are not always living in fear, but something is there in their life that gets them through the hard times.
And that thing is the friend that they can lean on, who has been through all of it and more.
What a wonderful gift to give to our children, to bring them to God in Baptism, and to tell them of the love that friend has for them. It means giving them peace with God.
May Jesus your friend and saviour bless you as you walk through this life, through the good times and the bad, through whatever will happen, until the day when you go to be with him, where there will be no more pain or hardship or sorrow. Amen.