A Living Hope
From the Pulpit – December 7, 2019
Omaha World Herald
Reverend Eric L. Jay
“A Living Hope”
Can you believe it’s already here? Merry Christmas! Christmas is all about Jesus and the gift God has given to us in His Son who was born to die, and who did die and rose again for our salvation.
This week, as the St. Mark preschoolers have been preparing for our “Happy Birthday Jesus” party, my thoughts drifted back to my daughter’s 3rd birthday that we celebrated earlier this year. Despite my wife and I’s best efforts to make the day memorable, all my daughter wanted to do was jump on her trampoline, read books, or do anything except celebrate a day three years ago that she really doesn’t understand yet. I am regularly humbled by how much I learn about being a child of God by watching my own children. As I watched my daughter, I was reminded how our birthday is both the most important and least important day of our life.
Our birthday is an important day to celebrate. That is the day when God finished “knitting us together in our mother’s womb” (Ps 139). This life is a pure gift of God’s grace and it should be celebrated. Simultaneously, our birthday is also the least important day of our lives. Like yours, my children are the most adorable babies ever to be born. Yet, in all of their cuteness and apparent perfection, every child is born in sin and is in need of salvation. That may be hard to digest at first, but as any parent knows, just give it a year or two…you’ll see!
My family will always celebrate birthdays, but there is a day that is eternally more significant… the day of their baptism. In response to St. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, the people listening were cut to the heart and asked, “What must we do to be saved?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. This promise is for you and for your children and for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” It is in baptism that Scripture says in 1 Peter 1, “God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
God’s gift of baptism has given us a living hope. Like my daughter on her birthday, as baptized children of God we have been set free to live forward, into eternity, and live focused on the new life God has given us in Christ instead of the old life that lies behind. As I watched my daughter’s increasing disinterest in celebrating her birthday, just wanting to get on with her life and play, I was reminded how important it is that we remember (as big ol’grown-up adults) that we too have been reborn in our baptism and set free to live forward by faith in Christ who is our living hope.