Sunday, 31 October 2010

Baptism and Tree Climbing: a Short Sermon with Reference to Luke 19.1-10 - on the Occasion of Sam Allan's Baptism - the 830 Service

Today we get to witness a transaction similar to the one we heard about in Luke’s gospel.

Luke 19:3 (ESV) 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.

Like Zacchaeus, Sam Allan has been seeking to see who Jesus really is for some time now. But there have been some crowds in her life blocking her view.

Luke 19:4 (ESV) 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.

So she looked for a way to see him more clearly—a tree—part of that was coming to St Barnabas. From time to time she found our Anglican way of doing things an awkward tree to climb. But she persevered.

Luke 19:5 (ESV) 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”

Jesus looked up and said, “Sam, come down to me for I must stay at your house today and from now on.”

Luke 19:6 (ESV) 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.

Today Sam will also formally receive Jesus joyfully. In a few moments, just as Zacchaeus’ repented of and renounced his ill-gotten gains, Sam will promise to renounce the devil and all his works, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh, to constantly believe God’s holy Word, and obediently keep his commandments. In return, the LORD promises to; deliver her from the power of Satan, give her the fulness of His grace, receive her into the Congregation of Christ’s flock and keep her in the number of His faithful and elect children.

Luke 19:9–10 (ESV) 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Today the fact that Salvation has come to Sam’s house is demonstrated and confirmed in a sacramental act—today we witness an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Someone who was lost, as all of us once were, is making public the fact that she is saved. As a saved and baptized believer, along with the rest of us, she will now also be welcome at the LORD’s table to be sacramentally and supernaturally fed by His presence in holy bread and wine.

For the rest of us, Sam’s baptism is a reminder of what an amazing grace and privilege we enjoy here Sunday by Sunday and of the wonder of the Father’s love for us in Jesus. Church can get pretty routine. We can develop a Zacchaeus-like, spiritual shortness of stature. We can lose the excitement of that first love and hunger for more of Jesus. We get lost in the crowd of sore joints, difficult people and busy lives. As for tree climbing? Well.

But Holy Communion can be like the tree that Zaccaeus climbed. We can help one another up. We can see who Jesus is more clearly. We can enjoy him and he will say, “Come to me. I must stay at your house today.”