–given on Sunday, January 10, 2016
Scripture base: Luke 3:15-22 (lectionary reference to Jesus’ baptism)
[ Jesus Blesses Little Children ] Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them;
[ Jesus Blesses Little Children ] People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.
[ Jesus Blesses Little Children ] People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it.
Have you ever noticed that you never feel grown up? One of life’s more embarrassing experiences is running into an old high school classmate and not even recognizing him or her, but then there is that voice. Suddenly a thousand memories rush over you and recognition is there!
The process of growing up does make physical changes in our appearance, but the process does not have the same effect on our brains. The more we age, the more knowledge we gain; but does this mean we grow up in God’s eyes?
We often address God in our prayers as ‘Father’ and we ask him for guidance. We go to God to complain and to ask for help. The attitude we take is often the same as that we use with our earthly parents. Do we ever grow up in our parents’ eyes? Do we ever see our own children as grown up?
In the commentary for this week’s lectionary, there is an interesting reference to Dominican Priest Jude Siciliano. He explains an old Southern saying that I have never heard before: “God has no grandchildren.”
The saying means that our faith is not handed on the way family heirlooms or family stories are handed on from one generation to the next. Although we honor our ancestors in the faith from Adam and Eve, through Abraham, Moses, and the apostles, our faith is not handed down from them. God has no grandchildren; God has only children. The Lord entered our lives directly through our baptism. Our parents and godparents certainly want to see us have the gift of faith they have received but they cannot give that gift; it is from the Lord.
Maybe the secret to growing up is not to grow up. If we are always, regardless of chronological age, a child of God it seems like we do not have to “grow up.”
But let’s back up this aging thing a bit. Aging is a process that begins on one’s birthday. There is no doubt that we have earthly, biological parents. Even Jesus was born with earthly parents, but it was during Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River that God’s presence became public when the Holy Spirit descended upon him.
Our baptism publically declares God as our father. As God’s child, we are never going to grow up. We can grow, but we are never going to outlive God. We are always his sons and daughters. We are never grandchildren. Nothing can forcibly separate us from our heavenly Father.
Can we ever grow up though? Certainly we can. We are organic beings who can physically develop from newborns to toddlers to school-aged kids to high school students, and even on to be parents.
Yet, through all these developmental phases, God is with us. As our heavenly parent, God is always present. He is available at any moment in time. He loves us even when we make mistakes.
In our closing hymn, Jesus Loves Me, we are reminded of how God loves us as his children. We might think the hymn refers to the youngsters, only, but if we are God’s children then age does not matter. Remember, we are God’s children even if we turn 5, 15, 55, 91, or 101.
Does this not make a huge difference when we consider birthday celebrations? If we never grow up in God’s eyes, then we never have to feel grown up. The opportunity to be forever young is a gift that we can accept.
How do we accept God’s gift? There is only one way. We accept Jesus in our lives, and publicly affirm the relationship through our baptism. Accepting God also means that we accept the responsibility to follow his teaching and to live according to his Golden Rule. If we do not unwrap God’s gift, then we will never discover the secrets of life everlasting.
As Christians, remembering our baptism can keep us young. Even though it is possible to never participate in a reaffirmation of faith service, reviewing the baptismal covenant is one way to celebrate being God’s child. [Turn to p. 32 in the UMH to read the statement concerning baptism and/or review of the covenant ceremony.]
The Baptismal Covenant is God’s word to us, proclaiming our adoption by grace, and our word to God promising our response of faith and love. Those within the covenant constitute the community we call the church .
Persons of any age are suitable candidates. Infants and others unable to take the vows for themselves are presented by parents and/or sponsors. . .
. . . Baptism is not administered to any person more than once, for while our baptismal vows are less than reliable, God’s promise to us in the sacrament is steadfast.
Baptism is an outward sign of one’s acceptance of God as our heavenly father. Baptism defines God’s relationship with us. We are responsible as sponsors and as independent adults to accept God’s gift.
Unwrap God’s gift by reading the Bible. We know that our earthly parents and grandparents have learned many secrets to life, but those who model reading the scripture, going to church, serving one another in love, will always be children in God’s eyes. They opened up God’s gift and used it. As you unwrap God’s gift to you, too, you will learn that the secret to never growing up is accepting God as your heavenly father.
- Apostles’ Creed (UMH 881)
- Invitation for baptism/church membership (UMH p.33)
- Closing prayer (UMH 253)