Water and Word

Mark 1:4-11 - Baptism of Jesus - Commitment Sunday

Peace and love to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

I was going to preach on the Baptism of Jesus and connect that with our special Sunday, today, Commitment Sunday. And in some ways I will, however, something happened this week and it affected me deeply and I'm going to preach on that because it seems as important as anything else I could say to you.

This week I found out that my good friend, Bob York, a long time buddy since we were 15 years old, died of a heart attack. He actually died 15 December and his wife called and left a message, but it was on the wrong machine-she had dialed the wrong number. She sent me a note and that arrived after I had left for Connecticut on the 29th to celebrate Christmas and New Years with my brother and his wife.

So, when opening e-mail on the 4th, I found out. I was shocked because he was a picture of health. Ate healthy, was active in wonderfully healthy outdoor activities with his wife, Linda, like hiking and kayaking, and canoeing and skiing, and bike riding. I would have flown out to California for the Memorial Service on the 19th of December since I have lots of air miles to cash in. I could have flown out one day, been there for the memorial service, and flown back that same day or early next morning. For what ever reason I didn't get the message until the 4th, I didn't get to his Memorial Service.

On Wednesday I was flooded with memories of our times together. We double dated in high school, even triple dated (3 of us were like the Three Musketeers-Bob, Buster and Nick); played sports together, got into mischief together, were in Youth group at church together, took off for Maine for a week(we grew up in Connecticut) after High School graduation. I don't know how I convinced my father to use the family car, but I did. We drove way up into the woods of Maine to a cabin and lodge on Lake Schoodic. It was a four mile drives in from the main road over a hand carved trail through the woods; the last quarter mile was inaccessible by car; you had to park and they came and got you in a camp truck.

The owners had two daughters. Bob was older than me by 3 months so he got to 'hang out' with the older daughter, and I with the younger. They were junior and sophomores in high school. They were impressed with us, having graduated and going off to college in the fall.

I left college and joined the army and Bob finished college and joined the army. He then moved to California. I hitch-hiked out to see him when I got out of the army. I met his bride to be then, and was later Best Man in their wedding. I later, after finishing college, moved to California. I knew his two sons from birth on up, both in their 30's now; one is a youth pastor.

Bob and his wife Linda stayed here at the parsonage when they were traveling around the country and stopped in here for a few days the first year I was here at Trinity.

A life time of memories. Since I didn't get to be at his Memorial Service, I thought I could honor him today by remembering him and sharing with you how his death affected me.

Bob and Linda were just short of 36 years of marriage-they got married at the end of December. This couple was committed to each other and to our Lord. They were faithful in their attendance at church, faithful and committed in their volunteer service through their church, and committed to service in Christ's name and especially to having their children know about the love of the Lord.

What struck me so deeply about his death was not only the loss of a life-long friend, but how suddenly and unexpected was his death. I'm grateful to know that he was a baptized, committed Christian who knew Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the source of his strength and who were his guide and guardian throughout his life.

Reflecting on how suddenly his life ended, it made me realize how precious every day is. Bob retired at 60 and these last five years have been really full ones for him and Linda as they traveled all around the states hiking and biking and canoeing and the like. I'm glad they had that closeness in these past 5 years.

Every day is precious and yet we throw away so many days. Perhaps you've seen the phrase, "Live each day as though it were your last." How true that is. I don't have immediate family like a wife and children, but do have a brother and his children and I have lots of cousins and still have 2 living aunts. But I have really good friends and they are like family to me. For me, in losing a friend, it's losing a part of my family.

You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Families often have splits where members of the family don't see or speak to each other for years. With friends it isn't that breakdowns don't happen, but if there are such things, friends work through it sooner than family does.

If any one of you is estranged from some family member, you need to end that today. You need to make a commitment to ending that today. It never matters who was right or wrong. It only matters that you are family and God connected you. Life is short and much too precious to spend even a day being at odds with or not on speaking terms with a family member or a good friend. There is nothing that you can't and shouldn't forgive someone for. If Jesus can forgive us, sinners that we are, no matter HOW good we think we are, how righteous (being in a right relationship with God) we think we are, we still sin in many ways that go against what Jesus taught us. Whatever the rift, whatever the grudge, it's time to heal that today. The Holy Spirit will help you.

And today is the day to commit yourself to further discipleship of prayer and Bible study, of volunteer service to the church, which is Christ's church. Today is the day to end excuses. Is today the day you will stand before the Lord and make an accounting of all the excuses you made when God gave you the opportunity to serve? Is today the day you will sign your name to what you are committed to? People unwilling to sign their name, and they all have their own excuses, are basically saying, "I don't want anyone to know when I don't live up to what I commit to."

People today seem to take commitment quite lightly. That is you can see the lack of commitment in the divorce rate; you can see it in child neglect; you can see it with regard to family life; you can see it in betrayals in friendships; you can see it in Christians who say they are committed, yet don't live up to it. They don't live up to what they say they will give in financial support (that is, if they even make a commitment of support) to Christ's church; they don't live up to membership in a church because they don't volunteer or help and don't use the gifts and talents and abilities God gave them to use for serving others in Christ's name; they hang back and don't commit because something better might come along (youth are notorious for this, but so are more and more adults) or they are waiting to be asked (a good excuse example: "No one asked me"-give me a break-I never joined any organization to do nothing-or just wait till they ask me-I joined to volunteer my God-given abilities and gifts and want to do that, not wait to be asked).

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. None of us knows how long that life will be. If it's today, have you lived each day to its fullest, not throwing days away? If today were to be your last day, have you healed all relationships that you can heal? Have you healed your relationship with God? Would someone be able to look at your life and say you were a committed Christian? Were you committed to tithing? Were you committed to volunteering? Were you committed to a prayer life? Were you committed to growing spiritually through study of Gods' Word?

When John the Baptist was baptizing, he called the people to repentance first. To repent is to stop what you are doing that takes you in a direction away from God, and turn around and head back to God.

In baptism we are made part of a huge, world-wide family. In baptism we are committed to serving our Lord Jesus. Serving Jesus means that we forgive others, we love others and we find a way to serve others. We don't just wait to be asked to serve. We don't wait for the other party or parties in an estranged relationship to make the first move to healing that relationship. WE make it. We forgive. We reach out in Christ's love which has the power to heal. Don't wait; don't make excuses. Today might be your last chance.

Live your life as a baptized Christian, fully committed and willing to be counted for committing to something. Fill out and sign your commitment cards (and everyone should do this even if you are a visitor or a friend of Trinity-friends of Trinity are those who haven't yet committed to becoming a member but this is basically the place they come to worship-a visitor is one who visits when in town, or is passing through town or such). If you belong to another church, still fill out your commitment card, but make a note on it that you are 'visiting'.

Lastly, I want you to turn the commitment card over to the blank side. On this side, when I give you a few moments shortly, I want you to write two commitments: one, write something you will commit yourself to in your personal spiritual growth; and two, write something you will commit yourself to here at Trinity.

And I would like you to stand behind your commitment by signing your name. We are not going to keep track of any of this. That is, we are not going to follow up to see that you fulfill the commitment promise you have made. But we WILL mail these back to you (if you are a visitor, we need your address) in December of 2006 so you can see how you have followed up on your commitment.

Don't let another day go by without committing yourself to that day-living it to its fullest, not throwing it away. Don't let another day go by without making a commitment to God of your time, your talent and your financial resources.

Today, commit to healing all your relationships that are broken. Today, live out your baptism in service to others in Christ's name. Today let YOUR words be backed up by THE Word.

Today, repent, remember your baptism and make a commitment of time, talent and treasure.


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