The Blessings of Commitment

Baptism of Jesus - Epiphany Sunday - Commitment Sunday

Today is a day on which many things are celebrated. First, as with every Sunday, we gather to celebrate the resurrection of our living Lord. It is our understanding of Scripture with respect to days of the week that he was crucified on Friday and rose on Sunday morning. So we gather weekly to celebrate that.

Today is also Epiphany Sunday. That is, the Sunday closest to the 6th of January, the 12th day of Christmas, which in many parts of the world is the day on which Christmas is celebrated, the day the wisemen arrived bearing gifts for Jesus. An "epiphany" is a 'revealing' a 'manifestation of something not seen or understood before,' a 'flash of insight' or the 'event that brings about that insight.' It is called "Epiphany Sunday" because on that day we celebrate the revealing to the Gentiles (non-Jews) of Jesus as the Christ. We carry on the tradition of gift giving, but we don't just give gifts to Christ, but to each other. Every gift we give at Christmas is really to celebrate the birth of Christ. Hopefully you had Jesus at the top of your list and didn't forget him. I know some of you have picked up on the practice I suggested and that is, on every gift tag you write (besides the "to" and "from") something like "in honor of the birth of Jesus" or "to celebrate the birth of Jesus." Many children focus on the gift giving of Santa Claus, and that's fine, but they should also know that Santa brings the gifts in the name of Jesus to celebrate HIS birthday.

And today in the Christian church calendar is the day we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, as you note from today's Gospel reading( Luke 3) and our remembering our own baptisms in the 'aspersion ritual'.

And finally, in our congregation, the Stewardship Board recognizes this day as Commitment Sunday at Trinity. It is a wonderful way to start the year by focusing on one's commitment to Christ through one's participation in the life of the Church of Christ on earth. Commitment to serving others through serving in the church, through sharing the time and talent and treasures with which God blessed each of us, and gives them to us to share with others; they are not given for our benefit alone. It's a wonderful time to be specific and make a commitment to God. If you aren't a member of this congregation, it is still an opportunity for you to make a commitment to your home church, or a commitment to God of just how you are going to be faithful in committing your time and talent and treasure to share that with others in the world.

It's very easy for any one of us to slip into putting everything else in our lives first and letting God have what's left over. It's especially easy when one doesn't commit to anything specific-even if you don't tell anyone but God, you still make a specific commitment. And we should; after all, God is totally committed to us, so why should we not do likewise rather than slight God?

The Stewardship Board gives one the option of putting one's name on the form to turn in. Some folks, even with that option, refuse to turn in a commitment form. I am really old school on this, and think if someone is willing to make a commitment, they should stand by it with their name. Yes, it's between you and God, but we are a community. Whether you are a member, or whether you attend here regularly as a friend, you choose to be part of the community of Christ. This is a wonderful, caring, loving place where folks support each other-share both in joy and in sorrow. We are there for each other. So, yes, your commitment is to God, but I think you should be happy you are part of a wonderful, friendly community. Being part of a community, we are committed to working together for Christ and sharing that love in many ways with others, in our church community, in our community of Taneytown, our county, state, country and the world.

When we are baptized in Christ we are committed to the teachings of Jesus, and we believe in Jesus-believe he did indeed rise from the dead and indeed broke the bonds of death so that we may have life eternal after this life on earth is finished.

But our baptism means so much more than just the promise of eternal life. It means experiencing the fullness of life NOW. When we have our children, our babies, baptized, we are saying that we want them to be part of this loving community of Christ. We are committed to raising them in that community. We as a community, support the parents in helping the children grow in the knowledge of the fullness of that love so that their life will be full, and they will understand that being open to the love of Christ will be a support for them throughout their life.

So today we celebrate Jesus' baptism and we celebrate our commitment to Jesus because we were baptized in his name; and by calling ourselves Christians, we are committed to following his teachings and sharing his love and forgiveness with others.

I, as your pastor, want you to experience the fullness of the joy of being committed to Christ and his message of love and forgiveness. I want to open every door for you that will lead you to a deeper, fuller, richer experience of his love. The Holy Spirit can use me to open those doors, but only you, through making a commitment of how you will walk through those doors in using your God-given gifts of time, talent and treasure, only you can experience the fullness of what God has for you as you make a commitment to God.

I hope that each of you, whether a member or friend of Trinity, or a visitor here at Trinity, will make some specific commitment to Christ today. As Christ's followers, we hold out a hope, a light for the world. Jesus wants us to be committed to that hope and light for the sake of the world-the world he loved enough to come to, even to give his life for you and me and our world.

I hope that you will be here week after week sharing-giving and receiving-making our community in Christ stronger, a better support for each other and a solid arm to reach out through the doors of this, Christ's church, to help others in need-especially those in need of knowing the love of Christ.

Now, I said I wanted to do everything I possibly could to help you make a commitment and so.....I'm going to have cots placed behind the back row of pews for those who say, "Sunday is my only day to sleep in." The ushers will have sweaters and blankets for those who say it is too cool in the sanctuary and fans for those who say it is too hot. We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in if I ever came to church." We will have hearing aids for those who think I speak too softly and cotton for those who think I preach too loudly. Scorecards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. There will be TV dinners for those who can't go to church and cook dinner also. One section of the Sanctuary will be devoted to trees and grass for those who feel they can commune better in nature, like at the beach or skiing or on a golf course. And finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.

But mostly, I want you to know how much God loves you, and want you to be able to experience the blessings of the peace of Christ that come through commitment to him; it's an inner peace we can have even in the midst of the frenzy and chaos of our world. And....I want you to know how much I, and others, miss your energy, joy and sharing when you are not at worship or involved in the life of our community at Trinity.


Read more sermons by Pastor Brie