Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23;
This morning we baptize Benjamin Everett Hill. Welcome to his family and friends who are visiting. Poor Benjamin! He won’t understand what is going on. There is a large crowd of people and then this crazy lady in a green poncho will try to drown him and Mum and Dad don’t do anything to stop her! Well this means he really does understand what is physically happening. We bathe in water to remove the soil of our day and to become clean. That is what is happening in our baptismal bath as well, the sins of our day are washed away and we are left clean. But our baptisms are more than just a bath, they are also a drowning, a death to sin, a burial in Jesus’ death and a resurrection from death to life. Through his baptism in water Benjamin is welcomed into the family of God, as a member of the church and the body of Christ. In the baptismal promises, Stephanie, Eric, Jennifer and Joey promise to tell Benjamin God’s story, our story, as told in the Old Testament and the New Testament, to bring him to weekly worship, to bring him to Sunday School and to teach him in the Christian faith and life. We, the people, will also promise to support Stephanie and Eric by praying for Benjamin and sharing our faith stories with Benjamin. We are the body of Christ. We are the church.
A few years ago in 2007, this building burnt to the ground and needed to be rebuilt. The foundation stones were carefully numbered and removed so that they could be put back in the exact same place when the foundation was rebuilt. Then the carpenters built the walls and the roof, the electricians did their wiring, the beautiful stained glass windows were replaced, masons re-laid the brick walls brick by brick and the space was painted and the furniture restored.
The “church” is built in a similar way. Jesus Christ is the foundation, the rock upon which the house of God is built. Some of us are bricks. Some of us are Electrical wiring. Some of us are beautiful stained glass windows through which the light of God shines. The church, the body of Christ, is under continuous construction. We are part of the Episcopal construction crew and Benjamin will be the most recent brick laid in the wall of the church. Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians that we may be master builders, but it is critical to remember that our foundation is Jesus Christ and the message we proclaim is the love and grace and mercy of God, the Word of God embodied in the flesh of Jesus Christ, Christ crucified and resurrected and the forgiveness of sins.
In our reading from Leviticus we are instructed to be holy for the Lord our God is holy and Jesus teaches his disciples to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. These teachings are daunting, how can we ever be holy or perfect, but this is exactly the task that lies ahead for Eric, Stephanie and those of us who support Benjamin in our prayers and witness. We will teach Benjamin the morals and ethics of the Christian church that he must not steal or lie or cheat or slander, that he needs to deal openly and honestly with others, that he must strive for justice ensuring the poor and the alien have food, water, shelter and clothing. Benjamin will be taught to love others including his sister and those who trouble him.