I'm telling my best Vikings Packers joke, because after today, I don't think I'll be able to tell it again.
The Vikings and the Packers had an ice fishing tournament. The first day the Vikings caught 100 fish and the Packers didn't catch any. The second day the Vikings caught 200 fish and the Packers didn't catch any. The third day the Packers were getting worried so they dressed Aaron Rogers up like a Viking and sent him with the Vikes to see why they were catching so many fish and the Packers couldn't catch any. That day the Vikes caught 300 fish and the Packers caught none. They said what's the deal Aaron, are they cheating or what's going on? Aaron said you bet they are, they are drilling holes in the ice!
You have heard me say over and over again, I place all of my faith in the truth of resurrection. I place all my faith in the reality in which we live, the reality that God's creation is death and resurrection. This community of faith has experienced it's share of death and resurrection. We all know that, and we walk that road together. So today, I want to talk about baptism, and ministry, and resurrection.
My baptism, Salah's baptism, your baptism, is what empowers each of us for ministry. Baptism reminds us that we are God's beloved creation, and in baptism we are claimed and marked as God's own forever. Baptism matters. Water is a powerful force that can kill as easily as give life. In it we join with Jesus in death, and in new life. Baptism reminds us that it is in the letting go, letting things die, that we are free to be the amazing creation God intends for us.
So we are baptized for ministry, what does that mean? And what does that look like? We show up. We are people of incarnation, we don't just attend church, we are the church, and the church shows up. The church shows up to care for one another, to advocate for those with no voice, to feed each other and those who are hungry, to love those whom society will not.
We listen, to one another. We listen to those with whom we most vehemently disagree. We listen to those who are most different from ourselves. We listen to stories of lives, when they are much like our own and when they are so very different from our own. We listen without needing to inflict our own opinion, judgement, or morality. We listen, as if it Jesus is in our midst. And indeed, it is, because we also know the reality of incarnation, Jesus in our midst.
We tell the truth, the truth that love wins, the truth that death does not have victory, but that the work that Jesus does on the cross is the victory. The truth that we miss the mark, we often slog through the muck and the mess,
and God loves us, and we love one another, anyway. The truth that perfection is an illusion, brokenness is the reality, and healing possible because God shows up for us and we show up for each other, bearing light and love into all the dark places. Truth is that prosperity and success are not what God's heart's desire is for us, but God's dream for creation is love, and relationship and connection. The truth that this life is not really even about any one of us, but about all of us together and God's love in the midst of us.
And we let go. We let go. This may be the very hardest part. We cannot control God's love, or even who God loves. We cannot control what dies and how new life arises out of that death. When we don't let go, we get into all sorts of trouble.
So, you, you individually, you St. Andrew's, you, have shown up as church, and shown me what that looks like. We have prayed with each other in this space, and in the parish hall and the garden and the park and the hospital. You have shown me what communion and community look like. We gather here, at this table, shoulder to shoulder, standing and kneeling, holding hands and holding each other, to be created as the body of christ, to offer our brokenness to be healed, to be filled with the healing bread and wine. You have shown forth communion and community in your homes, around your tables. You have fed one another and you have fed me, and Rick, and our children, as family. You know what being a minister is, you live that out day by day.
You show up for the Cornerstone meal, you show up for Love INC, you show up at United Campus Ministry. You are church for so many.
You show forth God's kingdom, you are part of God's love for all of creation. Our work, our call is to bring God's love, God's healing and wholeness into the world, into our workplaces and our playplaces. Don't ever be discouraged by numbers, always be encouraged that you get God's mission in the world, and you get on board with God's love in the world.
Always know that new things are hard, and you can do hard things. Always know that God's dream for you is that you love and welcome everyone into this sacred space. Always know that you have shown me, and us, love and compassion and mercy, and that love always wins.
Thanks be to God.