This sermon is about our Candles and Silent Night ritual placing it within the context of the carols sung. It is not the ritual of earlier times, but it is beautiful and right and proper in its own way.
Text: Matt 3:13-17
I like knowing what I’m going to say in the pulpit before I say it. What that means is that I’m usually over-prepared. But events happen which can make all that preparation if not meaningless, just not what needs to be said. As the day Saturday went along, I new I had to say something about the shooting in AZ. If there is anything that sermons are for or pastors should be able to help with, it is offering a biblical way of thinking about events. The task of discipleship is forming within ourselves, or for pastors with their congregations, the mind of Christ – being conformed to his likeness (Rom 8:29).
And it is exactly in awful and terrible events like mass shootings that the Christian witness makes the most sense. The enlightenment’s only answer to such events is mental illness. That is a form of scapegoating. We don’t understand, so we cast the person out – they are mentally ill. The biblical witness is sin. We are all bent. We all have that within us. It is by grace that we are saved. See the difference? The world’s current answer divides us, judges and doesn’t provide a real answer other than walking quickly past. The biblical answer of sin says no to the division and judgment. And it provides a real answer – repent, we have a savior and a spirit.
The text works. Jesus stood for us in his baptism. Instead of doing what we want to do – divide and judge – Jesus stood with us in the waters of the Jordan. Because of his standing with us, and the Father’s bestowing of the Spirit on him, we also have the Spirit in his baptism. We are not slaves to sin.