This sermon was composed and preached by Elysia McGill, a member of St. Paul’s who filled in for Pastor Andrew while he was on vacation. We apologize that audio is not available for this sermon, but we hope that you are blessed by it nonetheless. Our congregation certainly was.
Deuteronomy 5:1-21; 6:4-9
+ Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in the Unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +
Today we gather in celebration, a celebration of welcoming a new sister in Christ through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. It is a time for us to remember and reflect on our own baptisms and the promises that were made on our behalf. It is a chance for us as members of St. Paul’s to reflect on how we are supporting each other through the baptismal promises.
In today’s reading there is so much to digest and take away. The Commandments are at the heart of our lesson but honestly it’s not what caught my eye or my heart. The last verse is what stuck with me.
One of my favorite ways to reflect on Bible passages is to use my Message version. So here it is from the Messgae, Chapter 6, verses 6-9. Write these Commandments that I’ve given to you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street. Talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder, inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
What a wonderful scripture for us on this day of Abby’s baptism! As parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles and people of God and St. Paul’s, let us take a closer look at this passage.
We are charged with certain responsibilities when we bring our children to be baptized. We are to live among God’s faithful people, place scripture in their hands and according to this passage, talk about God’s Commandments wherever we are.
Matt and I are not perfect parents by any means. We have always tried to do right by our girls, providing for their needs, giving them opportunities and instilling good values that they hopefully will carry with them as they grow and eventually leave to make their own ways in the world.
We have brought them to church, Sunday School and talked with them about their faith lives. In short, we are doing everything we can to give them a strong foundation to build their lives upon and pray that it is enough.
What we don’t do a great job about however is talking to our godchildren and other young people here at St. Paul’s about their faith lives. As Lutherans I’ve discovered that we at times are reluctant to share and talk with each other about our faith and the good news of Jesus. Through my work with the Nebraska Synodical Women’s Organization and the Women of the ELCA, I am trying to get better about talking and sharing my faith, but it’s scary. We don’t want to be rejected or scorned for our beliefs. Mady is probably going to kill me but she has actually inspired me with by her own faith journey. She is not afraid to share the Gospel…ever. If someone needs a prayer or to be prayed with, she’s your gal. Through her actions, she is helping her sister find her own faith life and helping her dad and I guide our faith deeper.
So, how do we live out the baptismal promises? We talk about the Commandments from the time we wake to the time we fall into bed at night. We talk to our children and our godchildren and others at church about our faith. We show our love of God with our whole hearts and not be ashamed or scared to show it!
Times have and are changing. The Commandments haven’t changed but perhaps the way that we talk and discuss them needs to. Maybe we need to make them more user friendly in order for our kids and those not familiar with the church and it’s teachings to understand. We need to be prepared to tell them why we believe the way we do. Don’t tell someone that they are wrong in their faith and beliefs, be tolerant of each other and enter into a discussion with them. Perhaps you will gain new insight and perspective into your own faith. By modeling these characteristics, our children will learn about God’s love first hand.
My dear Brothers and Sisters, take today as a new start in your faith journey. If you’ve never prayed with your children, start. Walk in the path that God has given you and you will have the life that He intends for you to have.
Remember to care for one another physically, emotionally and spiritually. Pray for one another in good times and in bad. Call your godchildren if you can, say a prayer for them. Be encouraging of each other here at St. Paul’s and wherever you go. Ask questions if you have them, don’t be ashamed of what you don’t know.
But most of all be proud and be bold in sharing and talking about your faith and the Gospel. Never be ashamed of your love for Christ.
Abby, Izzy and Evie, and all of you little ones here today, we here at St. Paul’s love you and all that you do. Today all of us gathered here promise to help you grow in your faith and teach you the best we can. We also promise to learn from you, listen to your questions and comments and together grow in God’s love for us all. May God’s love surround, comfort, strengthen and bless you all forever. Amen