Friday, January 8, 2016

You Are God's Work of Art (RCL Baptism of Christ C 10 January 2016)

On this Sunday we welcome by baptism five new members of the Body of Christ.  As has become my custom, here is my letter to them.

You Are God’s Work of Art

RCL Baptism of Christ C
10 January 2016

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Dear Cooper, Gemma, Lucy, Madelyn and Sadie,

            I am writing this letter to you on the day of your baptism.  My hope is that in a few years you will read this letter or perhaps your parents will read it to you.  It’s important that you know something about what happened today and what it can mean for your whole life.

            In baptism the Christian community welcomes people, some young and some older, some rich and some poorer, into a life with God.  Now all people have a life with God; all people are God’s children.  What baptism does is to bring people into a community that knows that God is alive and working in us and through us, a community that knows that all people are God’s children and, most importantly, a community that is committed to helping all people become the people God means for us to be.

            This sounds very nice, but it is not an easy thing to do.  There are people in the world who do not believe that we are all God’s children.  And there are people who aren’t willing to help their neighbours become all that God means for us to be.  In baptism your parents chose to have you marked as one of God’s helpers so that God’s love for everything and everyone might be shared.

            But remember what I wrote:  Being one of God’s helpers is not an easy thing to do.  It’s very hard to do this alone and there are many things we have to learn in order to help God well.

            When you were baptized, we read some words from one of God’s helpers who lived more than two thousand years ago.  We don’t know his name, but his words are part of a book called ‘Isaiah’ that is in our Bible, our collection of holy stories and holy words.  Isaiah wrote to the people who lived in Israel a long time ago and who were having a very difficult time.  In fact, they were living like refugees in a land that was not their own.  But they heard that there was a possibility that they were going to return home to the land of Israel.  They were very excited, but they were afraid.  They knew that things would not be easy for them.

            Through Isaiah God spoke to the people and promised them that they would not be alone.  Let me share some of the words Isaiah wrote for God:  “Do not fear . . . I have called you by name, you are mine. . . . Because you are precious in my sight . . . I love you. . . . Do not fear, for I am with you . . . everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

            Cooper, Gemma, Lucy, Madelyn and Sadie, as you grow older, you may not always know that God loves you and that you are precious in God’s sight.  But you are not alone.  You have your parents and your families, but you also have us, the Christian community.  We are here to stand by you and with you as you face all the challenges of growing up.  We are here to help you become who you are meant to be as one of God’s works of art.

            It’s a funny thing to say about a person, isn’t it?  But you and I and every human being are God’s works of art.  Art helps us see the beauty of God’s creation and to explore what it means to be part of that creation.  But unlike a painting that hangs on a wall or a sculpture, God is never finished making us.  Every day, every year, God shows us how to grow up so that we can make the beauty of God’s creation known more clearly.  Even adults have things to learn.

            I know that you will grow up surrounded by the love of your family.  But my hope is that you will also grow up surrounded by the love and wisdom of the Christian community.  You are very special to us.  We want you to work with us to help people see how God loves this world.  We want to help you grow into a person in whom God’s life shines into this world.

            So Cooper, Gemma, Lucy, Madelyn and Sadie, welcome to the Christian community.  May you become the person God truly wishes you to be.  May you love and be loved.  May you know that you are never alone, especially in those times when you may think you are.  For today you were marked as Christ’s own forever and God never forgets a promise.

As always in God’s love,


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