September 3, 2023, the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, a sermon preached by Rev. Carolyn H. Eklund
Year A, Proper 17, Baptism of Lucien Joseph Murphy, September 3, 2023
I invite all our kiddos forward to sit around the table I have set up for a baptism this morning.
Soon, I’ll pour water into this big glass bowl and invite Lucien Joseph Murphy forward with his mom and godparents for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Baptism is the church’s way of saying God loves you forever and ever. It is the church’s way of reminding us all of God’s love and promise that we always, no matter what, belong to Jesus. You can’t even break away from God. You are ALWAYS connected to God. That’s how much God wants to be connected to us.
We know from the Bible that long, long ago, there was a man called Apostle Paul. Have you ever heard of him? Here is a picture of him. Take it home with you and think about what we talked about today.
Sometimes, he is called St. Paul. Have you heard of HIM? Our church is named after him. We even have a stained-glass window of him. See, over there?
St. Paul started A LOT of churches in his lifetime after Jesus died and rose again. He wrote A LOT of letters to his churches about loving each other and how they belong to Jesus. Jesus even appeared to him in a bright light and talked to him, calling him to preach to people about love faith, and hope. Paul spent his life preaching and teaching about Jesus’ love and being kind to one another.
- So. Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of St. Paul or the Apostle Paul.
- Can you share one thing you know about him? Well, I just listed some things. Did he write letters?
- He wrote A LOT of letters.
- He lived long ago.
- He wrote about love.
- He wrote about being kind.
- He preached a lot about belonging to Jesus and how to follow Jesus.
I LOVE that our church, St. Paul’s is named after him! That means we must be a faith community that is about loving, being kind, belonging to Jesus and following him.
Oh! Look! Here is a large scroll that a messenger of the Apostle Paul left for us to read! It’s the Letter of St. Paul to the Members of St. Paul’s, Brunswick!
Do I have a volunteer to help me open this scroll to read it?
So, it says,
I said that St. Paul wrote letters. He wrote them on scrolls like this! He sent messengers to take them to all the churches he founded. Once the scroll reached the church, someone read it out loud to the congregation. It was kind of like when someone reads from the bible out loud to us in worship.
So, I brought a “scroll” with me this morning because it has some things on it that are important for us to hear from St. Paul.
Here is St. Paul on the scroll. He ALWAYS wrote these words, “Love one another.” This is what Jesus taught his followers, and St. Paul passed it on. “Love one another.’
St. Paul also told his followers to be kind. Sometimes I see yard signs and car bumper stickers that say, “Be Kind.” What do you think it means to be kind?
- Be nice. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Oh yes! That’s from the Sermon on the Mount! Jesus taught that. It is a great way to say, “Be kind.”
The Apostle Paul teaches us that we belong to God. We belong to Jesus. We belong to a family. We belong to this church, St. Paul’s. What are ways you belong?
Some of you started school last week. Hold up your hand if you started school last week. Do you belong to a school? Your class? A sports team? A neighborhood? Friends?
God wants us to belong to a loving, kind, faithful, and trusted church. Our church is a loving, kind, faithful and trusted church that follows Jesus. I love our church!
Sharing kindness and loving care; sharing bread and ensuring a safe place to belong for all; these are ways that we follow Jesus. Jesus gives us bread each Sunday in church for communion. It reminds us of his love and that we belong to him and each other.
Baptism means “Belonging.” In a few minutes Lucien Murphy will receive Baptism by water and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is the symbol Jesus gave us of belonging to God, to Jesus, to friends, to our church. In a few minutes, I’ll ask Lucien and his family to come forward for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. There are little jars of water for each of you to participate in the baptism by pouring water from the jar into this large glass bowl. Water is a wonderful symbol of baptism and that we belong to God. It is a once in a lifetime Sacrament, an action in the church that means that we belong to God.
After the baptism there is another symbol that is important; that we do every week. It is sharing the bread. I bless the bread and wine because Jesus gave us bread and wine to remember him each week. These sacraments give us strength to follow him. That is called Communion. Soon, we also will come to the altar rail for Communion. There are two Sacraments that Jesus gave us: Baptism and Communion. We will gather and celebrate both today.
Now! Before you return to your seats, I would like each of you to participate in Lucien’s baptism. Do you see these little jars of water? I’m inviting you to come to this table, take a jar, and pour the water into this giant glass bowl to show Lucien and his family that you welcome him into this “household of God” with this water of baptism.
When you pour the water in, will you shout with me, Welcome Lucian?
Welcome, Lucian! Welcome Lucian! Welcome Lucian!