Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baptism of Samuel Wildauer

(Kristina, myself, Samuel, Robin, and Micah Wildauer)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:25-35).

When our Lord tells us to hate our own family he does not mean that we are to be cruel or negligent of them.  Quite the opposite.  He is teaching us that there is no love more important than His deep love for us.  Before love for spouse, or parents, or brothers and sisters we are called to first and foremost love Jesus and His kingdom.

Apart from Jesus Christ we do not have the faintest idea what love is.  We may think we do.  But love is not a mere feeling or emotion.  It is not just cupids and rainbows.  It is not chocolates and hallmark cards that tug on our heart strings.  As Saint John writes, “God is love.”  John does not write that God is like love or occasionally does something that is loving.  But rather, He is love.  He is its source.  And that source is none other than the person and work of Jesus.

That we are to hate others before Him, simply means that we are to love no one or anything as much as we love Him.  It requires the gift of true faith to look your wife or husband in the eye and say “I love you, but first and foremost I love my Christ and my savior.”

Why should we say this?  Because there is no love like the love of Christ.  There is no spouse, no friend, and no parents who went to die for the life of the world.  No one could do this but God himself.  Therefore He is to be loved above all else. 
Your fellow kin, your posse, your gang, your lions club, your community activist groups.  The NRA, ACLU, democratic, republican – No one can deal with your sins accept one.  And they must be dealt with. 

Your spouse, your mother or father, your friends, your activist group, your nationality, none of these will protect you or save you.  We all must give an account when we are called.  Have we followed men or mere organizations, and opinions of this world?  Or have we taken up our cross and followed Jesus?  Shall we drink from the cup of life or from the dregs of death? 

Our meeting together here is different from all other gatherings we may have.  For that which we do here we will also do in the halls of heaven.  Singing, worshiping, praising God, and loving one another.  What is said here – yes, what Christ himself speaks here is more important than the words of any man.  Even the president of the United States – for the Words of Christ grant life and destroy the powers of death.  His Words raise the dead.   

The words and hymns that we speak and sing to one another have eternal significance.  No president or king can say anything more powerful than the simple words Christ says to you and that you say to one another.   

When it comes to being a disciple of Jesus you are either in or out.  We are either living as a baptized child or God or we are not.  We are either basking in his glorious light living under His Holy Cross, or we are forging your own way.  We are either receiving his promises and feeding on His Word of life or you are rejecting his gifts.  We are either receiving forgiveness in faith or despising that forgiveness by refusing to hear it and to hold it dear. 

Being a disciple of Jesus is not like being in another organization.  It is not like being in the lions club or running around with a certain gang in the neighborhood.  Being a disciple of Jesus is to have life.  Not being a disciple is to choose death.                  

There was once a professor who was asked whether he knew a certain young man who sat in his class years before.  The student thinking of him, said “Yes, I remember him, He sat in my class and listened.  But he was not my student.  That is to say he was close by and occasionally heard the professor but the professor did not regard him as his true student  – he was not a true disciple.  The young man in the class did not receive and take hold of teachers words, but rather despised the instruction altogether.

The Lord does not take pleasure in the death of anyone, but desires that all turn toward him, receive from him, and live.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The good news for Samuel Wildauer is that God is not waiting in heaven for this little child to make a decision.  The will of God this morning was to baptize this child into the waters of Holy Baptism and unite him in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of the Father.

Through baptism we have entered into a new family, the family of God.  Samuel Wildauer counts the world as loss for the sake of Christ.  He will receive the wisdom of Christ to love his parents and honor them.  Serve and obey them.  But He will serve them by first being served by Christ.  Even this infant child will need a hearty serving of forgiveness.  He will fear, love, and trust God above all things, by the gift of faith received in holy baptism. 

And our Lord is not waiting for you to make a choice either.  He has more sense than to give you a free will in regards to salvation.  By our own strength and merit we are quite incapable of paying up to the cost of discipleship.  It is the Lord’s work that you confess Him.  For He has paid the cost to set you free.  The Father sent to you His dearest treasure to pay the price and to set your free.  And price was not cheap.  It cost Him His own flesh and blood.  But be comforted.  Be still.  The Father’s will is to give you Jesus and all that He is and has.    

He who has ears let Him hear.  For in hearing and receiving our Lord has promised to make disciples of you.  Repent and be baptized.  Eat and be filled, drink and be satisfied.  The words and promises of our Lord will fill you and equip you for all that you need.

This is how you will be faithful husbands and fathers.  Faithful wives and mothers.  Respectful and honorable sons and daughters.  The love of Christ teaches us how to love one another.  To live under God in His kingdom.
The cost of discipleship is to give up this world, to take up your cross, and to follow Jesus.  But following Jesus does not mean that we rush off into Christ’s war, thinking that we, ourselves, will win the battle by our own will and discipline.  Our enemy, the evil one, is fierce and scowl as he might He cannot overpower us when Jesus is our rock and our refuge.  That is why we pray against in in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil.” 

Your battle has been waged by the one who has stormed the field for you.  He has carried the cross for you – He has carried your sins – He has made them His – at that bloody hill in Jerusalem.  He has come down from heaven to you, to wash you clean from all impurity.  And in the words of our Lord “It is finished.”  Finished is that dreadful sleep of death.  For in death your baptism is completed and with all the faithful here assembled you await the resurrection of the dead and life of the world to come.
Jesus calls you the salt of the earth!  You, Christians, who attend to your daily duties, and suffer through this valley of sorrows, you, are so sweet and lovely to your Lord.  You season this world with the flavor of life.  And you have the sweetest aroma to your Father in heaven – like the smell of newborn child.  You do not hope in those things that are seen but in those things not seen.  You are baptized children of the crucified, risen, living, and reigning Lord.  You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  This is true for Samuel Wildauer and it is true for you.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen.       

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