Monday, August 17, 2015

Tyler's Baptism Day!

Tyler's Baptism

It is a big day! It is Tyler's Baptism Day! Anytime there is a Baptism in the church is a big day! The two great Sacraments of the Church are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist and we get both today. In Baptism we see into the heart of God, a desire that we might all become God's Children, members of Christ, and inherits of The Realm of Heaven. This is, after all, the teaching of our Catechism on Baptism. And the rest of our lives are then dedicated to living more and more Christ-like "day by day".

The Collect of the Day, for instance, calls us to "follow daily in the blessed steps of Christ's most holy life." Interestingly enough, the life of Jesus is not built on holiness alone but also on compassion. The holiness code of the Hebrew Bible was built along the axis of a verticle line between ourselves and God, but the life of Jesus was built along a horizonal line of compassion. Jesus requires us to live not only to Love God, but to love one another. The two great lines of Jesus' life meet on the cross, at the intersection between the Love of God and the Love of humankind, and it is there that he was crucified, that he died, and that he rose again, and we believe that he comes again particularly as we seek to come increasingly into daily obedience to his life of holiness and compassion. This is the life into which we are all baptized and which feeds us all in the Eucharistic mystery. 

My parish priest, Fr Fred of blessed memory, taught us to memorize these words,
"Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me
For all the pains and insults Thou has borne for me
O Most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother
May I know Thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day"
These words are reputed to have been recited by the 13th century British Saint, Richard of Chichester, on his deathbed. They were popularized by the musical "Godspel" in the 1970's. 
         "Day by day, day by day, 
          O dear Lord, three things I pray..."

Like Richard of Chichester, Solomon the Wise chose the way of God over the way of the world. Of all the things he could pray for, Solomon prayed for Wisdom. What Grace to pray such a prayer. 
May you in your youth and all of us at every age have the Wisdom to pray such a prayer, for the times in which we live are dangerous, violent, and often downright evil. And if you don't think so, you haven't been watching the news lately

The Psalmist prays for Wisdom in today's appointed psalm by saying;
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; *
those who act accordingly have a good understanding;
for God's praise endures for ever"  ~Psalm 111: 7,11

Paul continues to reflect on the nature of Wisdom in today's Epistle to the Christians in Ephesus; "Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise"; and "make the most of the time, because the days are evil." See, Paul must have been watching the news in those days! There were probably nights of violence in Ephesus then as there are now in Boston or in Ferguson or a hundred other cities and towns throughout the land. "So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of God is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit"

That brings us to the business of drinking too much wine. Many folks can have a glass or two from time to time. But then there is that word; "debauchery". It has a bit of a funny sound to it, perhaps to the modern ear, but there is nothing funny about alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity, and all the other addictive behaviors humankind is subject to. Some of us have stared into the abyss of addction. For me it was obesity. I was watching my health deteriorate and finally did something about it. Now I have lost over 100 lbs and still I'm not out of the woods...still I have to practice the twelve steps day by day. And now this is what I can tell you about abstinence for the likes of me;

"The hinge of recovery turns on the experience of doing it."

Exactly as the Gospel requires; Jesus says;
"Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you". "But the one who eats this bread will live forever." ~~John 6:58. Did you mention food? Ah, but not the kind of food that has gotten me into trouble. 

This is the food of God; to do the will of God. As Jesus said "I do not live by bread alone but by every word that falls from the mouth of God". ~Matthew 4:4. This is our experience in the wilderness of Life. God requiers us to hunger so that we may learn that we do not live on bread alone.

Christians in the days of the early church days were often accused of cannibalism and no wonder with talk like this. But heaven is a serious, delightful and joyous matter. When compared to the reality of sin so many fall into. 

The hinge of heaven turns on the doing of the will of God. It is in the doing of heaven that we dwell in heaven, we dwell in Christ, indeed we dwell in God. It is in the doing of heaven that we come to the Peace that passes all understanding.

For heaven is like Wisdom in this: for Jesus as well as for Solomon as well for all of us joined together in Baptim and in the Eucharistic Fellowship these words are verbs not nouns. Heaven and Wisdom are action words. They are not states of being we aspire to when we die. They are states of being we are baptized to live into in the here and now.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said; "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Realm of Heaven but those who do the will of God." ~Matthew 7:21

He goes on to say;

"Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise who built a house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and beat on the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a fool  who built a house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell-and great was its fall."  Matthew 7: 24-27

We come now to this Baptism. Congratulations Tyler! Today you become a Child of God, a Member of Christ and an inheritor of the Realm of Heaven. Well, to tell you the truth, you are already all of that, and have been since the first breath you took. What this Baptism does is to help us see what God has already done for you by giving you the gift of life, and the gift of human love in your family. May you grow in Wisdom all the days of your life, and may we all grow into such Wisdom; 
As Fr Fred taught me so many years ago;
Day by day three things I pray that you may 
"Know God more clearly,
Love God more dealy,
Follow God more nearly,
Day by day."

Now let us proceed to the Baptismal Font for Tyler's 
Baptism and as we do let us sing this hymn; "I want to walk as a Child of the Light".

Fr Paul

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