Sunday, 8 January 2006

Five Alive: a Short Sermon On the Occasion of Five Baptisms

I’m using a new Daily Devotional Guide.

The prayers I pray each day are entitled, “Prayers for Winter.”

One of the petitions in the Prayers for Winter is "For those who do not believe, and those who have fallen away, that a saving faith may be kindled in their hearts." All kinds of people have faith in all kinds of things, but not all faith saves. There is a winter faith which may well seem to be clear, serene, even beautiful, but which is cold and dormant. And there is faith which leads to warmth, spring, growth and resurrection; saving faith. To be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is the public expression of that kind of faith; saving faith. Olivia is here today to be baptized because a saving faith has been kindled in her heart. Travis, Madison, Jackson and Avery are here today because their parents hope that a saving faith will be kindled in their hearts, too.

The sub-title of my “Prayers for Winter” section is “prayers in the light of the ministry of salvation.”

We share that ministry, you and I. We gather week by week to worship the Living God and as we do that we are, or ought to be, empowered to work at the ministry of salvation. To get folks saved.

Baptism is, among other things, a key part of that ministry of salvation. People believe, are baptized and are saved. If there was any doubt as to whether Olivia was saved, and I don’t think there was, she is a believer, today that doubt is gone.

On top of that she and Jody, Carmen and Mike, Tyer and Tara, are embarking on a ministry of salvation for their kids. Today they are taking a major step in that process. They are publicly committing themselves to it. They are here because they intend to do everything in their power to ensure Travis, Madison, Jackson and Avery are saved. It is vitally important that this ball never gets dropped. Here are some practical ways to keep going:
  • Keep believing—we have to work at that, feed it.

  • Let your kids see prayer happening in your home—more than just the occasional, “O God!” in an emergency

  • Resist evil and tell them why

  • Be a witness, an example, of the Good News for them

  • Treat others, and especially your spouse, well and with respect—your children will tend to treat theirs the way they have seen you in action
You get reminded and encouraged to persevere in all of that by coming to church. That’s why I am so boring on the subject. The ministry of salvation gets fuelled and done here and no where else. It is not a solitary endeavour. It is a messy community one, done in the midst of God’s family, the body of Christ, the church. It means choosing to get up out of that nice warm bed and get the kids up every Sunday morning and bringing them here. That’s the job to which you’re committing yourselves this morning…the ministry of salvation for the benefit of your kids.

Today the Spirit of God will hover over the water in that font. God will say “Let there be light,” in these five souls. Sins will be forgiven. The Holy Spirit will be released into five lives.

And we all get to share in a real, live, winter-time ministry of salvation.