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October 7, 2018, 12:00 AM

The Egalitarian Body of Christ


 

Grace and peace to you from God, our creator, our redeemer and our sustainer. May the words in my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

We gather this morning to worship and in the midst of this worship to baptize another child. We are bringing this child into the body of Christ, making her a sister with us in the work of the kingdom. This is a wonderful break in the week. The is a moment we can all gather and agree. This is the time when we put down the politics to do something even more important.

As we get ready for this baptism we have the opportunity to be reminded of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. In our texts this morning we had the ten commandments and we had Jesus talking about what it takes to get to heaven. Jesus for his part says that we must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees and the  Scribes. Being more righteous than the Pharisees and Scribes, if it meant following every religious rule would be very difficult. Remember the rich young man who came to Jesus, who said I have done all of these things what else must I do. Jesus response to him was to sell it all and follow Jesus. Jesus' answer was not about how money is evil but about where the young mans heart was on the journey to follow God.

Lets talk about the Scribes and the Pharisees for just a moment. Paul, our beloved Paul, who wrote most of the letter at the end of the bible and to whose ministry most of the book of Acts is devoted , this same Paul was before his conversion one of the Pharisees and so would have been really well taught and versed on Jewish law. He would have followed all 613 laws to the jot and tittle. Paul like the rich man above would have followed every one of these laws and yet he declared after his conversion that none could be saved simply by works of the law. In other words, none were going to heaven on the merits of their actions alone. Paul points us in another direction. Paul says that it is our faith that will get us into heaven, not all of the things we have done correctly.

What therefore is the remedy, if it is not right action, that makes us right with God. I want to quote two things for you, first is in the Gospel text we read today which lets us know that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. In other words the only way to fulfill all the commandments of the law is to have faith in Jesus and in the saving power of his life and death and resurrection. And what is the first step to this but what Jesus commands at the end of this Gospel where it says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mat 28:19-20 We are here this morning to accomplish the remedy. We are here this morning to baptize this child in keeping with the command of Jesus, thus fulfilling for this child all righteousness. There is nothing this child could have done more than being another beautiful example of the grace of God.

This does not mean we are not to try and do the right things. No I would never claim we should do nothing but instead only that being right with God does not require anything other than consent on our part. It is our faith, like it was Abraham's faith that makes us right in the eyes of God. It is the faith of this little child that makes this child right in the eyes of God. It is the baptism that forever connects this child to the body of Christ. All of this accomplished for us and for this child, by the grace of God. All of us on equal footing. This child is no more or less a child of God after baptism than you or I are a child of God because of our baptism. We are all equal in this space. We are all children of the living God. We are all saved by Grace through Faith for God. We are all going to heaven for the same reason.

I think that in this, that we are all equally members of the body of Christ, simply by our baptism. None are greater and none are lesser. None are going to heaven first because the did all the right things and none are going to heaven last because they did all the wrong things. No, in this space we are all equal. If you are rich you come to the table to be fed. If you are poor you come to the table to be fed. If you are strong you come to the table to be fed and in the very same way as if your were weak. This is one of the few places where it does into matter your social, societal status. We all come to the table on the same terms, we are all called to do the same thing, we are all given the same gift and the same commandments. We are all children of the living God, joined to the body through our baptism.

This space where we all come on equal terms and get along as brothers and sisters through Christ is a place where the church has something to offer the world. Outside of these walls we are told that we need to grab for everything we can figure out and inside of these walls we are told to make sure all have what they need. What might the world look like if we truly fought for a nation where all had what they need, how would it change our laws and our legal system. Outside of these walls, we are told that we are not good enough, if we don't have the right car, house, clothes, credit card or political position and inside these wall we are told that it does not matter the car, the house, the clothes, the financial position or the political position, if you are baptized, you are part of the body of Christ. What might the nation look like if all were treated with respect and dignity simply because they were recognized to be a fellow human beings of intrinsic worth.

Call me crazy but as I watch the political and social jockeying for position, as I watch people trying to have the right car and clothes and struggling financially to do it, as I watch the simple meanness involved in our politics and even more the callous not caring what others are saying if it does not serve my ends, if it does not put me in a better position, if it does not make me feel good. As I watch these things, my heart breaks for those who are hurt because some other people want to preserve their privileged position, because some want to make sure there bubble is not burst, because some don't see all as equally valid, or valuable. As I watch this and I consider this morning I think, the church has something to offer the world, and by the church I mean you in the world. As I look at that baptismal font where there is not a question of male or female, rich or poor, straight or gay, educated or not, addicted or not, perfect hair and clothing or slightly frumpy. As I look at that baptismal font, I see a place where your social position and social reality don't matter, what matters is that you want to be a child of the living God. As I see this, I see an example for the world to follow that would lead to the peace and justice that we are called to work for. As I look at the table where the Lord offers us nourishment for the journey and all are called to come and be fed (ALL are called to be fed), I see an example that the world needs if it is ever to achieve the peace and justice central to our calling as Christians.

So, in closing, we come to the font and then to the table to be fed and nourished for the journey ahead. We come to the font and table to be sent into the world an example for all to see. We come to font and table, a space of true equality, experiencing what is possible, so that hopefully we can mirror that in a world that is fractured and fragile. We are called to be those who work on behalf of the widow, the orphan and the least of these. Come be fed, Go be an example for all the world to see.  Amen.

 


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