Sunday, 12 June 2016
My Story in God's Story ~ Jesus' Baptism
Pastor Adam shows us why Jesus would even need to be baptized

6.12.16 MSGS ~ Confirmation Sunday ~ Jesus’ Baptism Matthew 3:13-17

It is so good to be here this morning and to celebrate three of our students completing confirmation.  It is good that we have gathered together for something good.  Don’t you think?  This past season in our church life, and I don’t even know about a lot of your personal lives, but this past season in the church has seen a lot of funerals and tragedies and people struggling.  And we are here for each other when life is hard, and we show up for each other when we are hurting.  But it is nice to balance the struggle with the celebration isn’t it?  We also need to show up for each other when things are going well!  This is why it is so good to gather for something good.  Like right now, here this morning, we are gathered to worship, celebrate, sing, pray together.  And we do this today and every Sunday, because after most of our weeks, every week for all of our lives, you might want, like me, to just come together with good people for something…good in here in the midst of all the junk we live through out there.  We just need a little balancing out right?  A little good to balance out the all the bad.

So today you are going to get some of that good.  Because today is especially good!   We are celebrating Karley, Dylan, and Nate who are confirming their faith and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today.  Today I am going to spend just a few moments helping us all understand what it means to confirm our faith and what it has to do with all of our journeys.  I am going to help us understand how Karley’s, Dylan’s and Nate’s stories are right here in God’s story, just like your story and just like mine are right here as well.  Let’s Pray.

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us.  Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us.  Amen.

Question:  Are you an optimist or a pessimist?  By optimist I mean--you tend to see the world around you as good as well as people, you are more of a light hearted sunny disposition with a quick smile on your face.  Is that who you are?  Or are you a pessimist?  By pessimist I mean you tend to see the world around you as dark and full of problems, people cannot be trusted or they are more the problem than they are the solution.  You are sort of a sarcastic, maybe cynical, person who walks around with one eye brow raised because you are sort of suspicious of whatever is in front of you.  Is that who you are?

Show of hands how many of you would be honest and you would say you are a pessimist?  And now optimists?

Most of us are pessimists!  Of course we are.  We live in a tough world, even though we live in one of the greatest, wealthiest, most beautiful countries in this world, life is still tough.  Even though you got up this morning and you are alive and even though you maybe ate a delicious breakfast (you should eat breakfast), and did anyone out there have bacon this morning?  Some of you got to eat bacon!  And yet we still look out on this world and our lives and we see all the problems, all the pitfalls, all the ways things can go wrong.  That’s pessimism

Now being a pessimist is not a bad thing.  Pessimists are realistic.  They see things without those rose colored glasses.  They like to find problems, but good pessimists will work on those problems that they find.  That’s fantastic.  But pessimists are not always fun to be around and we can be honest, they tend to miss out, on a lot of things we talk about in church like joy, praise, graciousness because they can’t see beyond all the problems to get to these other things.

Now on the flip side being an optimist is not always a great thing.  Optimists are overly idealistic.  They tend to get over involved and wear themselves out because they can say yes to EVERYTHING.  They might be unreliable because they are stretched so thin and can’t say no.  But a good optimist?  That also is golden.  A good optimist will be the life force and energy behind anything you do with them.  A good optimist keeps looking ahead when others have given up.  Even when the world is crashing in a good optimist finds a way forward.

Now here is what is true, the more we mature, the more we become both optimists and pessimists all smushed together in the package you call “yourself.”  We realize that there are times to be skeptical and times to be hopeful and usually that time is right now, in everything we do we need to be both a little skeptical and also hopeful and the wise and mature person can put these two together.

You have already heard an example of this maturity in the testimonies from our confirmation students for today.  Did you hear both their hope and their questions when it comes to faith?  Did you hear their successes as well as their struggles?  I did.

You have another example of this idea of holding both pessimism and optimism in our scripture reading.  John the Baptist what is the first thing he does when Jesus asks to be baptized?  He responds with pessimism, with skepticism, and he sees a problem with this idea.  Jesus comes to be baptized and John the Baptist says, “oh no!  I’m not going to baptize you, you need to baptize me!”  This “I can’t do this attitude?”  That is pessimism!  Jesus, the son of God, comes to you to get baptized and you see only the problems with this?

Now, Jesus convinces John to see through the problems and John paptizes him.  Immediately we are told that Jesus gets to see the total and complete optimism of God his Father.  Jesus comes up out of the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove and a voice says the most wonderful, beautiful, optimistic, loving thing possible.  God the Father says to Jesus, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Now what about this Jesus?  Do you see that he is right in the middle of this pessimism and optimism?  Do you see that he is just like us?  We too live in the middle of pessimism and optimism.  Because we live in this world we are sometimes despairing and cynical.  But because we believe in a God who loves us and is working for our good, we are not always pessimistic, but can also be hopeful optimists.

Do you see how this works?  Jesus at his baptism shows us all what it means to live in this dark and fallen world but while we live in this world we also live with a hope for a God filled and good future.

Put those two together and that is the reality of who we are.  We are always in the middle of seeing all the problems while at the same time being blessed by the God who is the solution to all our problems.

And this, my friends, this reality that we live life in the middle, this is the reality we are confirming to our youth today.  The reality that faith is not the absence of problems, but rather the answer to our problems and the problems of this world.  And I want to tell you today that I already see this kind of faith in Karley, Dylan, and Nate.  I already see the beginnings of all three of them moving through this world ready to face its problems and struggles without being overwhelmed by these problems because they have faith in a God who always says to all of us, no matter what, that we are the beloved in whom He is well pleased.

But this real faith that proclaims hope even while recognizing the dark world around us, this real faith, is not just for our confirmation students, it is for all of us.  Today, every single one of us needs to be reminded about how to live in this dark world with the light and hope of Jesus in our hearts.  All of us need to confirm, maybe for the first time, maybe for the 1000th time that we are people who are in this world, but not of it.   That we believe in this Jesus who knows our struggles because he lived in this world, taught in this world, and then died for this world, but then he transformed and continues to transform this world for the better.  Maybe today we need to confirm again, that we believe, that God is always at work making beauty out of ashes, and good out of evil and even life out of death.  We all here today, not just our three confirmation students, but all of us here today, can say yes to holding on to our faith not so we can avoid our problems, but so that we can face them head on with the power and love and truth of God on our side.

So let us all proclaim today that we believe in God, let us do so this morning with our words, and then let us do so the rest of this week with our lives.  And when you do, remember that God loves you and I love you too.  Amen.