First Lesson: 1 Samuel 3: 1-10 (11-20)
Responsive Reading: Psalm 139: 1-6, 13-18
Second Lesson: 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20
Gospel Lesson: John 1: 43-51
I want to tell you the story of your Baptism. Your Baptism took place on January 18th, 2015. It was an atypical North Shore winter with hardly any snow on the ground. You were surrounded by people that you know well: Mom, Dad, Uncle Joe, Grandma, and Grandpa.
You were also surrounded by people that you didn’t know very well before this day in the people of Sychar Lutheran Church. You see these people played a huge role in your Baptism.
They made a promise to walk alongside you, and support your Mom and Dad as you grew in years and your faith.
Many of the people that were at your Baptism are no longer with us. Don’t feel sad for them though! For they have undergone a different type of Baptism. In the words of the Apostle Paul, they were baptized into the death of Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4). In this Baptism, they received all the benefits of Christ’s resurrection unto themselves (Romans 6:5). In this Baptism, they received eternal life.
I am writing you this letter, Kinley, because many Christians misunderstand Baptism. Many Christians tend to view Baptism as a public exhibition as to your faith’s effectiveness. Baptism's effectiveness never centers though on anything that we do. You see your Baptism doesn’t promise you, a life without problems. Instead, what your Baptism promises you is that God will remain your God, and you will remain his child even in the midst of these problems. These promises are what we call “grace.”
Kinley, I don’t know what direction life will take you. I do know of a story that tells of your Baptism’s meaning. On the day of your Baptism, we read a passage from the scriptures about a child who we know from the time that he was just an infant like you in Samuel. On the day of your Baptism, we read from the story of Samuel and Eli.
The story starts out with Eli being a sad, sad man. Eli had a couple of sons named Phineas and Hopni, who were naughty kids. Eli’s sons’ bad behavior was so extreme that the Lord issued a curse that neither of Eli’s sons is around for his old age. Eli didn’t want the story to end this way.
Around this time, there lived a woman named Hannah. Hannah believed that it would be impossible for her to have any children. Hannah was desperate, so she went to see Eli. Eli, in spite of his sons was held in high regard. Eli was a judge, a ruler in one of Israel’s twelve tribes like Samson or Gideon, who you learned about in Sunday school. Hannah is so desperate for a child that she promises to dedicate her child to God if the Lord provides. After Eli gives Hannah a blessing; baby Samuel would be born. Hannah chooses to honor God by entrusting Samuel to Eli’s care.
You see Eli had been watching over Samuel’s life from before he was even born. No, differently than how God was watching over the people of Sychar as they formed as a community of faith in the years before your Mom and Dad even met. Samuel was left in Eli’s care; just like how the whole congregation assumed responsibility for your care on the day of your baptism.
Samuel’s life certainly took its twists and turns. Samuel saw his homeland enslaved by the Philistines; then Samuel rose up to lead Israel to victory against the most insurmountable of odds. Samuel shed plenty of tears in his life, Samuel experienced plenty of disappointment, and Samuel saw both wealth and poverty. Samuel saw bloodshed and peace. Samuel’s most famous life achievement was appointing a man named Saul to be the first King of Israel. Like you will, Samuel saw plenty of events where he couldn’t quite understand God’s role in it all.
This brings us back to the story of your Baptism and how people often get it wrong. You see too many people associate Baptism’s effectiveness with our response to it. Baptism is not a test given, but rather a promise extended. The best way, to understand Baptism, is to think of it as a “gift”. For what God does in Baptism is declare “You” Kinley to be his child. You don’t remember the day of your salvation, because you participated about as in it as the day you were “born”. This is why Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be “born-again” of both water and spirit.
We often can’t make sense of this. I’ve heard people claim that “Baptism” is too generous an event, that Baptism is too easy for “sinners.” The thing about Baptism is you can never be too generous with grace. Baptism works just like when you were an infant, you would lay in your crib all day, dependent on Mom and Dad meeting all your external needs from food to sanitation. This is just like how God acts within Baptism. We have no reason to have to protect the Lord from his own generosity. We merely give thanks for God’s goodness.
Kinley, as you go through life my wish, is that you remember the promises given unto you on the day of your baptism. The day that your sins were washed away (Acts 22:16, Titus 3:5-7), the day that you were incorporated into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13), and the day that you were given a new garment to wear to remind you that from this day forth you will be clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Gal 3:26-27). What makes this such good news to hear is all these things that the Scriptures associate with Baptism are God’s doing never our own.
Kinley as you go forward in life. I wish for you to cling to the promises given to you in Baptism when times get tough. I pray that you draw comfort and peace from your Baptism being a hopeful event. Baptism says that your hope in this life shall come forth from the forgiveness given by a gracious God on this day.
In the Grip of Grace,
 The reading for this Sunday was 1 Samuel 3:1-20.
 This is basically the story of the Book of 1st Samuel which tells the story of Samuel from conception to the death of King Saul.
 Romans 3:24
 Further discussion of John 3 takes place in the 3-23-2014 sermon entitled “Born Againsm” that can be found on the Sychar website.
Pastor Stew Carlson
These are all Sunday sermon's written by Pastor Stew.