Give Yourself Away

Palm Sunday ~ Affirmation of Baptism ~ March 24, 2013


Jennifer and Owen:  When you were baptized as a baby right here, after we poured water over your head, we

  • told you are a child of God.
  • prayed that the Holy Spirit would come to you
  • and marked you on your forehead with the cross of Christ forever.

Then we lit a little candle from the big paschal candle, the big Christ candle, and said these words to you:

“Let your light so shine before others

that they see your good works,

and glorify God in heaven.”

 You were just a baby then, and you didn’t understand.  And you’re still trying to understand now.   You have lots of company.   All of us are still trying to understand what it means to live our baptism.  You have changed so much since the day we baptized you, and so much in your lives has changed.

During the past weeks, we interviewed folks who are following Christ: a young parent, a grandparent, a member of another denomination, a hospital administrator . . . . people who are giving themselves away in service to others.   We had some good talks about how the church is always changing.  We heard good stories from people’s lives.  One of my favourites was about somebody’s grandfather who got off the boat from Poland and right away was met by a group of Lutherans at the port.  The “welcoming committee” immediately said:  “Do you need a job?” “Do you need a place to stay?”

We heard people’s hopes and dreams for you . . . that you will have many experiences of the joy of belonging to a community of faith.  And many chances to use your God-give gifts making music and volunteering and doing radical acts of kindness.   The night we helped serve the community supper here, you surprised me by going out into the Parish Hall to serve bowls of soup to a room filled with hungry people you’d never met before.  And after supper I found you in the kitchen up at the counter carefully wiping off the salt and pepper shakers and helping to clean up.   I can see that both of you have a heart for service to other even when that service at times is uncomfortable.  You are learning to give yourselves away.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus compares himself to a grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies to give life to the world.   Jesus came to earth to give himself away for us, and to teach us how to give ourselves away for the life and well-being of the world.  He lived by the law of love which is a lot different from the law of punishment and revenge.   He lived to mend the relationship between God and us and to teach us how to mend our relationships with each other.   He showed his power and glory not by pushing other people around, but by giving himself away for us.

Owen and Jennifer, the rest of us here this morning are still learning what it means to have faith in God.

  • to follow Jesus.
  • to go beyond our comfort zone to make a difference in the world.

We need each other to remind us that Jesus is always right here, waiting to meet us whenever we reach out to those in need.  This means we can’t ever again think of anybody (including ourselves) as “a loser” or “dumb.” Through the eyes of faith, in every single other person here on earth, we can see the face of Jesus right here with us.  That’s where he’s hiding: in people’s needs.

So whenever

  • bad things happen that you don’t deserve,
  • or you think Jesus is far away,
  • or he’s abandoned you completely,

here’s a big clue about where to go looking for him.  Give yourself away.  Jesus promises us every time we give ourselves away to care for someone in need, he’s waiting right there to meet us.

Owen and Jennifer, as you keep trying to figure out

  • What kind of behavior is hopeful and what’s not.
  • Who you can trust for guidance.
  • What path you will follow in your life,

remember that there is a home for you here, a faith community where you can join with others who love you in trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus.

And on the days you find yourself wondering who you are, especially the days you’re worried about life and have trouble making decisions and loving yourself and others, remember that you are a beautiful child of God,  and by grace, you have the beautiful light of Christ shining in you.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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