Sermon on October 31, 2021
KaB FKB (Andreas Latossek)
Baptism – golden treasure in human body
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
Last Wednesday I was working in the kitchen. In addition, I put things out that our children then set the table with, including a couple of plates. I wasn’t really paying attention and then this happened: A really nice plate, at least it used to be, because it was part of our wedding crockery, which we once thought was beautiful, but has now been reduced to a few plates. Mine wasn’t the first to suffer this fate. But don’t worry, we don’t need any plate donations now.
That broken plate made me think of this morning right away. Because that reflects part of the reality of our lives. Some more, some less. For some, it’s not that blatant. Maybe that’s just a few cracks in the facade. But we find that some things are not what they should be, and that some things have broken in our lives. Love we owe Friendships that diverge. Thoughts that are not good. This affects our society and our world, both on a small and large scale. We live in a broken world and try to mend what goes and somehow hold them together.
The Bible speaks of sin in this context. We have turned away from God, our Creator, and rebel against him. And if it’s just little things where we know they’re wrong, we do them anyway. The Greek word behind sin actually means something like “missing the target”. Our life leads past the goal. I’m missing what God has in store for me. I miss the fulfilling fellowship with him in and after this life. That is the goal. That was what God thought. But the relationship with him is broken. And we read that sin has a negative effect: on us and our character, on our togetherness, even on our environment.
Some despair of life because they find it difficult to bear what is broken and the lack of hope for the future. Others say: Keep cool, it works. The others are no better either. Take a look at the shambles from the others. I still have a big piece and I make the most of it. And then we build a facade. You can do it piously or differently. And then we just push the break away. This works particularly well with little things and also with the broken relationship with God, because we often do not see this dimension at all.
God wants to start over with us. But he doesn’t force himself on us. He lets us run where we have our own head, but at the same time he invites us. Come to me who toil and suffer under your burden. Let me put you in my service and learn from me! I mean well with you and don’t look down on anyone. With me you will find peace for your life. Matthew 11: 28-29
So we can stop our game of hide and seek To pretend that we have no faults, that everything is fine, that we can impress God with our more or less pious life. We don’t need that at all. We can accept his invitation. And if you hear that today, also today. Or if this is brand new to you today, remind yourself, no matter what situation you are ever faced with: The door with Jesus is always open, and he is just a prayer, a conversation away from us.
With your baptism, we heard the Bible text from Romans 6: 3-5, you who have just baptized you have known: We made that decision. Yes, it is like that, our old life without God missed the point and we have also heard of the break that was there. But that old life without God is over. We want to accept the forgiveness of Jesus and live in friendship with him. Our new life should now be determined by God. And here something very crucial happens. Jesus once said: God lets his sun shine on bad people as well as on good people, and he lets it rain on everyone, whether they honor him or despise him. Matthew 5:45 Sun and rain as a sign of growth and harvest in the field, as a sign of the blessing that God gives to all people. Something is happening from outside. And if you don’t live and pray with God, God hears your prayer anyway.
We have just blessed a child. A special form of prayer that we read about in the Bible and believe that God places himself in a special way and that this child will do good in his life from outside. Good does not always have to be in our human sense, but we have prayed that one day this child would make the same decision as the two baptized people, because we believe that this is the best that can happen to him in his life and that God used everything in his life to draw his attention to him.
But with baptism, or rather with our decision to live with Jesus, for which baptism is the expression, something happens from within: In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise Ephesians 1:13
So if Christ lives in you through the Spirit, then that means: Your body has indeed succumbed to death because of sin, but the Spirit fills you with life because Christ has conquered sin and you are therefore accepted by God. Even more: the spirit that lives in you is the spirit of him who raised Jesus from death. Then the same God who raised Jesus Christ from death will also give life to your dead body. […] Filled with this spirit, we cry to God: »Abba! Father!” Romans 8: 10-11 and 15b
For just as God once commanded: “Light should break out of the darkness!” His light has also illuminated our hearts. Through us all people should now recognize God’s glory, which shines in Jesus Christ. We carry this precious treasure within us, although we are only fragile vessels. In this way everyone will realize that the extraordinary power that is at work in us comes from God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4: 6-7
There is a Japanese way of repairing broken: Kintsugi Translated it means something like “repair with gold” Here you can see a picture. I would have loved to give you a nice vase or something like that as a souvenir of today, but these repaired pieces are really expensive. That’s why my wife Jasmin created a picture for you. You can see such a vase from which the gold is shining. This picture, or this form of repair, is a beautiful picture of what God is doing to us. My grace is all you need, because my strength comes to full effect precisely in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12: 9 This is what God said to him, wrote Paul a short time later .
We’re pretty fragile, sometimes pretty weak. But the Holy Spirit is a treasure that lives in us. His light breaks out in our lives, shines through us, brings light into our darkness and out of us so that others can recognize Jesus. Whether we feel that way or not, he lives in us and in you. He gives you the strength to redesign your relationship with God, with yourself and with others. I experience forgiveness and become able to forgive others. I experience peace to help other people find peace. I experience hope and joy to pass on to others. It’s a process. New things are in the making, writes the Bible. The Holy Spirit shapes us to become more and more like Jesus. He changes our thinking so that we think more and more like Jesus does. And he helps us to listen to what God says that is good for us and to apply it in our lives too. To trust him more and more, to base my decisions on him because he has the overview, loves me and knows what is good for me. #
But Paul also writes of crises that God uses to shape us, and we don’t always trust and listen to God. Christians, too, sometimes experience breakdowns and maybe our lives have to crack. I think so of Peter who betrayed Jesus. Peter translates as rock. And maybe he was a little too hard and my impression is that God couldn’t really shine out of him. He relied too much on himself and his abilities wanted to look good myself. It was only through his failure that he realized how much he needed Jesus and his strength. And he has made the experience that Jesus loves him especially in the crisis, in his failure, and wants to continue to use him. That changed him completely and we read how much Jesus shone through him afterwards.
So Peter is an example for us that we can remember that Jesus still loves us, even if we fall, if we fail, if we do not trust him, That he forgives us and that we don’t need to stay where we are, but that God also uses such times and wants to continue to use us. Do not make yourselves available to sin […] make yourself available to him as instruments of righteousness without depriving him of any area of your life. Romans 6:13
That’s what God wants. That we learn to trust him more and more in every area of our life. Then he seems more and more out of us. To do this, it is important to spend time with him and learn what he wants. And that we make ourselves available to him. And then what the boy experiences with the 5 loaves and 2 fish can happen. He brings what he has. That is not much. But Jesus makes something out of it, so that in the end over 5000 people will be satisfied and much more will be left than there was at the beginning. But, dear ones, we have to make ourselves available to God for this. If you just sit on the sofa or go your own way, you won’t experience that.
I hope that you will remember your baptism, and that applies equally to everyone else who has been baptized at some point because they have accepted Jesus’ invitation that you remember and know: You said yes to God and God said yes to you. You are his beloved children and you are part of his family. Even if you are weak or feel like this, you have a treasure within you, the Holy Spirit. You will be resurrected to eternal life with God. But the spirit is already giving you full life and would like to shine through you. Make yourself available to him and learn to trust him more and more and to do what he tells you. Then you will see how he uses you.
This is my king, king of glory. I don’t have to fear anything as long as I know that the King of Glory stays close to me. We want to sing that now with the next song and remind ourselves that it applies, even today. And it’s an invitation to talk to Jesus. About his invitation, about our breakdown, about giving him space in our life and passing the worries and fears on to him.
Would you also like to get to know this God?