The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Baptism and Discipleship

June 24, 2007

from Matthew 28:16-20 and Colossians 2:6-12

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ." – Colossians 2:8

My sermon outline:

• On baptism. Many ancient traditions had purification rituals involving water, and Christian baptism starts there. John the Baptist changed it, incorporating life-change and repentance as well as preparing for the one who would baptize with fire. In baptism, Jesus associates with the sin of humanity and we associate with Jesus. The sinful part of humanity goes under the water, dies, as Jesus died, and becomes purified. As Jesus rose from the dead so the baptized emerges from the water cleansed and renewed. In baptism in Jesus’ name we have the hope of life. At least six times in Acts baptism is prescribed, in response to hearing the gospel and repenting and professing faith in Jesus Christ.

• Megan and Greg promised to nurture Samuel in the Christian faith (as Colossians: live your life in Christ, rooted and built up in him, established in the faith.) Samuel is a plant, a living thing planted in the soil that is Christ, watered with faith and thanksgiving, that he may grow in wisdom and in strength and ultimately produce fruit for God. You too have taken part in this promise to nurture Sam in faith and life.

• In fact when we read Matthew we see that baptism is a milepost on the road of discipleship. Jesus Christ, who has all authority in heaven and earth, says Go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

What should we do with all nations, all people? Teach ’em about the life-changing life-saving power of Jesus Christ.

And not only will we have to get out of our seats to “Go” but we’ll have to commit to them as we’ve committed to Samuel today, and as some congregation committed to you when you were baptized. Making disciples is not a momentary thing but a life commitment.

• Go, make disciples.
What’s a disciple? Not just a believer, subject, follower, but in ancient Greek, literally a student, pupil, learner. Go make learners. Example about my daughter’s dance recital and the dance teacher’s disciples. Disciples of weight watchers or the 12 step program, learning students. I’ve learned that if I don’t eat right and exercise then my body’s not in the shape God designed it to be in, and I won’t be able to live as God wants me to live. I’ve also learned that I can take some control of that.

I knew a man who said he used to be practicing Catholic, then he got good at it and stopped practicing. Oddly enough even the word “practice” derives from a word having to do with usefulness, not just being ornamental. Instead of practice to get good, Christian discipleship is like the game of bridge: it takes a few hours to learn, a lifetime to master.

• Making disciples, making learners.
How do people learn? Some by lecture, sure. Sometimes it seems like that what church or bible study ends up being; many listening to one, and while that’s a good start, there’s much more to learning. knowing about something is not the same as knowing something. We learn by doing, we learn by being mentored or apprenticed, we learn by immersion. Do you practice your faith? study and continue to learn and grow? Know how Samuel is going to develop into a Christian, into a disciple? By the example of his parents, his family, his church family. I know how my daughter picks things up from her parents, both good and bad, and that motivates me to nurture her properly.

• Therefore go and make students, teaching them, immersing them, mentoring, apprenticing them in the Christian life. My daughter’s going to take more dance lessons. Yesterday we learned that one of her teachers will be leaving to pursue more of a career in dance.

• Go, make disciples, baptizing, teaching… Go, find the lost, teach the found, send the taught.

• 451 Be Thou My Vision

- Pastor Kerry
This Sunday: 70 in worship.


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