Third Sunday after Pentecost

Romans 6:4
Therefore we were 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 go about in freshness of life.

            How does a Christian live in freshness of life? Now that Christ has ascended and the Spirit has been poured out, what does His church do? How do we live in this reality? When you go about your day, do you live in newness of life, fresh with God’s love? For those who remember a time when you were outside Christ’s church or even when you’ve ignored God, His Word and love, is your life different today? Or do you still live alongside your sin without any attempt to reject it?

            Paul had just written that God’s grace is far greater than all sin, that His grace covers your sins. Do that mean that to seek more grace we should sin more, that greater and greater grace will cover us? May it not be! God forbid! NO! At baptism your sin was washed away, even taken up by Jesus Christ to be killed, destroyed, on the cross. When the Holy Spirit baptised you, the Father adopting you into His family as an heir, a true child, when you were united into Christ together with all Christians in righteousness and holiness, we all were made anew, brought into new, full and fresh life with Jesus. Your old way of living was crucified with Jesus on that cross 2000yrs ago, dead and gone. Just like going from nappies to the toilet, you don’t live life the same. So you who sin living life just like anyone else outside of the Christ’s church, His body, why do you still poop in your pants?

            When you ignore God’s Word, His way of life, you say no to Jesus and yes to whatever else it maybe, the putrid ways of life. Yes to your own self, your pride, to pleasure in all it’s forms, to possessions, money, wealth, whatever; you say yes to being pulled away from Christ back to the old way of living, like a 20yr old going back to wearing nappies, why do you do this? Why do we do this? It’s ridiculous! Even though we have been baptised into Christ’s crucifixion, having the sure promise of God, you and I still worry how to care for ourselves by ourselves in this life; just as those without God’s promise do.

Remember Abraham and Sarah, this couple who trusted God with all their possessions and their very lives; giving up home and family to go where He sent them. God promised them a son, yet they worried how He could give one and so tried to fulfil the promise themselves. Thus Hagar and Ishmael caused trouble and were expelled, yet even though Ishmael was born by Abraham’s sin, God showed His great mercy and provided for them both. God dealt with their sin when He dealt with ours, on the cross, and so because His Word is true, God’s promise sure, Isaac was born, and the Israelites through him down to Jesus the fulfillment of all God’s promises. Abraham and Sarah did go their own way against God, yet God forgave them their sin and they returned to Him, receiving the grace God had promised, living the fresh life with God.

Abraham stopped worrying about the concerns of this world, he didn’t give an inheritance to Ishmael but rather dedicated what God had given to Isaac the child of the promise. Abraham changed the way He lived, He turned to God, repented, and trusted Him above all else. Just as Jesus said, don’t concern yourself with those that kill your body but can’t touch your soul; don’t be concerned with your starvation, weakness, your financial troubles, even people who might try to kill you. Rather, He says, be concerned with God Almighty who can destroy soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). Why live according to the ways of this world? Why do you ignore God’s Word and seek after lazy pleasure, power or possessions? All these things come to nothing, and if you seek these, rejecting Jesus, He will reject you before the Father in Heaven. Sin is missing the mark, and when you seek to live according to sin you set yourself down a path to, not just nothingness, but missing life falling to putrid death, suffering and a weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28). Utterly alone and without love.

And yet you are not alone, and you are loved. It may not look like it, but we are gathered in a very real sense here through zoom; and more wonderful we are gathered together with all those united with the living God, in Jesus Christ. Baptism is a new life, more than water, but much more even than the washing away of sin. You are united together with all the saints in the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. Paul writes you are buried with Him through baptism into His death; together with Jesus we have grown together, and surely we will rise in His resurrection through the glory of God; our old self was crucified with Christ that our sin come to nothing and we free from it’s enslavement, it’s way of life. So if we died with Jesus, we trust we will also live with Him. This is God’s promise to you today, the Good News, that in baptism you have been joined with Jesus, your sins are dealt with, you are free from them, free to live in Jesus according to the promise. You don’t need to wait until Christ returns to live with Him, His way of life eternal freshness of life, for already in the mystery of baptism you have been united, we are united together with all the saints, with Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Your new life without sin has already begun, so strive to lead that holy life; the life of love for your spouse, children parents, friends, workers, fellow Christians, life of love for God Himself; even as Christ has already made you holy.

Your sins are forgiven, walk away from them and live free in Jesus. As Luther taught daily die to sin and rise with Christ, every morning return to your baptism, remember who you are in Jesus with the Holy Spirit beside you and all the saints, pray. You are not alone, you are loved by Father, Son and Spirit, by me, by this parish, Christ’s church and all the saints who have gone before. Remember who we are, and live the new, fresh life you have been given.

And the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Joseph Graham.