We have spoken a lot about faith this morning. About the faith five, and how we nurture faith by spending time together in the word of God in family huddles. The seminar me, Cathy, Karen, Ros and Neil went to at Warrambui was all about faith in God; how we can teach and nurture faith in our young people. We need to be realistic, and it’s a sad fact, if currant trends continue, 75% of the children in our churches now, will not be worshipping with us in their adulthood. Take a look at the children here today, (Gil..take a look around, how many of our children should be here, but they are not) which of these children do we want to let go of? Which ones are we willing to say ‘nice knowing you, now go on your own way, without Christ’?
Not one of us could say this. Yet, its so sad that it is happening. For too long the egg of faith has been laid by the power of the Holy Spirit in baptism, but we have failed to nurture it. We have not nurtured the young in faith, from embryo to adulthood, like the penguin parents do with their young, who shield their young from storms and bring them into the heat on sunny days; All so that they grow into strong penguins in their own right. Our children have not been nurtured to be Christians in their own right.
Faith Inkubators is a program that is all about nurturing the faith of our young people, and their motto is teaching the faith ‘every night in every home’, and as you saw from the children’s address, it involves every one of us. (talk about and show some of the material)
But hold on, before we go any further, before we start all this. Do we really know what faith is? Take a look at the next slide…what can you see (list findings)
The story of Peter walking on water is a story of faith, in fact its more than a story, its actual faith in action; faith visualised…faith as experienced by you and me. The scene of faith is set with the disciples of Jesus in a deadly situation. The winds are against them, the waves are pounding the boat and darkness surrounds them; the disciples are terrified; lost to the depths of the ocean; they have no life line to cling to. Then, out of the darkness, in the midst of the storm; in the darkness of death, Jesus speaks a word of promise ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
The word of promise, Jesus’ words, speaks life into the disciple’s situation. Jesus’ words are not empty, they are words of action. When Jesus says ‘don’t be afraid’, his words actually change the situation of the disciples; they are actually out of danger. It is as if they were safe on dry land. Jesus demonstrates this change of situation when he calls Peter out onto the water. Peter can walk on water by the power of Jesus’ promise. When Jesus, the word of God in the flesh, says ‘don’t be afraid’, it is not just information, something to be heard and decided upon. No, Jesus’ words of promise are living active; they effect what they say. God’s word says what it does and does what it says!
Faith then, is simply taking God at his word! Faith is simply grabbing hold of the promise of Jesus and trusting our situation has changed, even before we see any results or experience God’s presence in our lives. Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water, before he saw any change in his situation, before he experienced the close presence Jesus. The boat was still being buffeted, the waves were still crashing all around, and Jesus was still far off, yet because Jesus said ‘don’t be afraid’, Peter knew his situation had changed, he was safe, and in faith he walked onto the water…and he walked on the water! Even when he was sinking, Jesus’ promise still remained, only Jesus himself carried Peter on the water.
The promise of God changed the situation of Peter, and it changes ours. There is a promise for you and I; a word of God that changes our situation. Jesus says to us ‘whoever believes and is baptised will be saved’, and again ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit… baptism now saves you also…It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ and again ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.’
Faith is simply taking hold of these promises of Jesus. Faith simply knows that the word of God actually changes our situation. We are dead in our sins, but for the sake of Jesus and his death and resurrection, God declares us to be in a new and good relationship with him. God says ‘our dept has been paid, you are forgiven, come all of you and be baptised for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.’
Right now, we are going to do just that! Take God at his word and baptise little Emelia. We do this in faith knowing that it is not our doing that changes Emelia’s situation, but God’s own promise. Because remember, God’s word says what it does, and does what it says.