Saturday, November 7, 2020

Sermon -- For the Baptism of Alexander Silva (November 7, 2020)

This devotion was preached and holy baptism administered at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in  Monroe, Michigan.

1 SAMUEL 1:25-28


In the name + of Jesus.

     Elkanah had two wives, which is not God’s design and not a good idea.  As you might have guessed, a rivalry developed between the two women.  Actually, it was pretty one-sided.  One of Elkanah’s wives, Peninnah, was providing him with children.  The other wife, Hannah, was not.  Peninnah held it over Hannah’s head that she was the mother of Elkanah’s children but that Hannah was not.  It is certainly a difficult situation when a mother pesters a woman who longs to have children but can’t.  I am guessing you might know what that is like.

     Hannah’s solution, besides weeping, was to take it to the Lord in prayer.  Prayer is not a place to bargain with God, as if God is interested in striking deals with us.  Prayer is where we cry out to God with matters that grieve us and plead for his mercy.  How God chooses to answer that is entirely up to him.  Since he is our good and merciful Father in heaven, whatever God decides is for our good—even if it is disappointing to us.

     The Lord heard Hannah’s cry.  He blessed her so that she conceived and gave birth to a son, Samuel.  Even though God does not make deals with us, Hannah was faithful to the vow she had made if God granted her a son.  She returned to the tabernacle with her family and Samuel.  When she saw Eli the priest, she declared, “Oh, my lord!  As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD.  For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him.  Therefore I have lent him to the LORD.  As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:26-28)

     Today, you bring Xander to be baptized, which means that this child is the Lord's.  He is baptized into God’s family.  He is marked as a child of God and an heir of eternal life.  He will be cleansed of his sin and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  This is God’s work and God’s promise.  It is not a deal that we strike with God.  It is a gracious act of salvation which the Lord gives to us.  With the water is the word of God.  With the baptism is a promise: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16)

     When Hannah came to the tabernacle with Samuel, she dedicated him: This child is the Lord's.  Samuel came from God's goodness, and Samuel would be set apart for God's glory.  Your prayers have been answered similarly.  This child is the Lord's.  Xander was granted to you by God's goodness, and he is set apart through holy baptism for God's glory.  

     The Bible reminds us that every child is a gift of God.  He does not owe us these precious blessings; he gives them as he chooses.  Xander's place in your home is not the usual way a child comes into a home.  But God granted him all the same.  And he is not less a member of your home because he is not biologically yours.  This child has been entrusted to you by God to raise.  You will feed him, bathe him, clothe him, discipline him, and instruct him.  It will be dedicated work on your behalf, and often it will seem thankless.  You will do all things for his good.  That doesn't mean you will give him everything he asks for.  It means that you will give him everything that he needs.  You will do the giving, and he will benefit from it.

     And is this not how the Lord is with us, his redeemed children?  The Lord provides all that we need for body and life.  He is so generous and consistent with his blessings that we often forget to be grateful for them.  God does not give us everything we ask for.  In his grace, he provides all we need.  God the Father always does what is best for us.  The Lord gives, and we benefit as we receive.

     This is not true just for material goods.  This is especially true regarding our salvation.  God the Father gave his one and only Son for us.  Jesus lived for us to give us credit for his holy obedience.  Jesus also took our sins away from us and put them on himself.  This is why he suffered and died; he was condemned so that we would be pardoned.  Then he rose from the dead to conquer death and the grave for us.  He opens heaven and gives us a life without sin, shame, sorrow, and without end.  All this God promises and seals to us through baptism.  We are adopted into the family of God.  And if we are children of God, then we are heirs of the heavenly kingdom.

     This is what it means to be a child of God.  We receive God's favor, and God gladly gives it.  Today, Xander is given these gifts.  And just as being a member of your family means you will continue to love and care for him, so also you will continue to remind him that he is the Lord's.  You get to teach him God's word, bring him to church, and pray with him so that he will grow in God's favor until he enters God's glory.  This child is the Lord's.  And by God's grace, he will be forever.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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