September 13, 2015 – The Rev. James Richardson

We were born with dreams, all of us.

Maybe you’ve forgotten some of your dreams. But think back.

You were born with dreams of joy and wonder. You were born with dreams that not even the sky could hold you down.

You were born with dreams of compassion for the world around you.

Inside each of us are dreams heaven and earth; dreams of love and dreams of hope.

God planted these dreams in you.

Then the world tried to knock the dreams out of you. The world has been working overtime to knock these dreams out of you ever since you were born.

These dreams are still inside you. These dreams inside you reflect the very face of God.

Hear again how the Wisdom of Solomon, our Old Testament lesson for today, puts it:

“For wisdom is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness.”

And this: “She is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars.”

God put this constellation of beautiful dreams in you for a purpose.

These are dreams that will heal the planet.

Today these dreams come alive because Wesley, a tiny baby, is being baptized here at Incarnation.

Wesley, you may not have quite thought of this yet, but you and your parents have been waiting since the day of your birth for this day to arrive.

But God has been waiting even longer. God has been waiting since the foundation of the world for this day to arrive.

That means this is a way bigger day for God than it is even for you or your parents.

The world is never going to be the same again because you are being baptized today – and God rejoices and takes delight in you.

We need you here. We can’t wait to see you baptized, and we can’t wait to see what you will bring into our world.

We pray you will have a long and healthy life.

We know you will certainly go your own way on many things, and you probably will put a few gray hairs on your parents’ heads, or what’s left of that hair for your dad.

But today is yours. Today you will be marked as “Christ’s own forever,” and that is no small claim.

Christ will never let go of you, not ever.

And you are stuck with us, and we welcome you to the deep end of the baptismal pool.

Wesley you already have much to teach us. What we do for the least among us we do to Jesus. Help us to figure out how to do that with you.

By standing with Wesley today, we declare that Jesus works through each of us bringing God’s dream alive in this hurting world, even through baby.

Maybe especially through a baby.

Soon we will join in renewing our baptismal covenant. This covenant is foundational to our faith, and I pray, foundational to how each of us lives every day of our life.

We will pledge to be faithful in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.

We will pledge to love our neighbors as ourselves.

We will pledge to work for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

In short, we will pledge to bring God’s dream alive right where we dwell.

Hold these pledges close to you today and every day. Bind them in your mind, in your hands and in your heart

But be careful out there.

There is a cost to baptism, and we hear about this, too, today.

Hanging like a thundercloud over us is the gospel lesson from Mark today, describing how Jesus will be arrested, tortured and will be killed.

Yes, he will rise again, but first he will go through terrible trials. Think of this grim lesson today as a reminder that baptism comes with a cost.

Hopefully no one here will ever have to endure such trials, though many Christians throughout the world today are being persecuted and losing their lives for being Christians.

Note this in the gospel story today:

We are hearing about the very essence of what it means to call Jesus our messiah.

To be messiah is not to be a powerful dictator but a servant among us, especially in our hardest moments.

In the story, Peter wants Jesus to fix things, to use his God authority like a mighty Roman emperor or a Greek deity like Zeus.

Jesus won’t. Therein lies the conflict of expectations between Jesus and his followers.

For Jesus, to be messiah means giving up the idea of being a fixer, a rescuer, and instead become a healer and the One who leads us to new life from the ashes.

For Jesus to be messiah means walking into the night with those who hurt, to share in our wounds, and then walk with us toward healing and hope – to Resurrection itself.

There is an unavoidable paradox to the gospel story today. This idea of bringing healing and hope does not always lead to immediate tranquility for the healed or the healer.

And Peter sees exactly where this is going, and he objects strenuously. Peter asks: Can’t we do something different? I really don’t like this plan.

But Jesus says we need to go where life is precarious, where life is treated as cheap. We need to confront the powers of the world that robs us of life and confront evil itself. And in his day, that would be Jerusalem.

Yet even here in our day, in our relatively safe land, there is still a cost to our baptism.

The cost might be that we have to change our life.

We might have to give up our valuable time, roll up our sleeves, and do some hard work.

We might have to put our money and possessions where we want our hearts to be.

We might have to give up some of our comfort.

We might have to surrender ourselves to the dreams God planted inside us.

In short, we might have to become disciples.

But know this too: God is dwelling with us, embracing us, and never stops planting dreams in us. God laughs with us and weeps with us. God invites us to the banquet of creation, and always has.

Welcome to your baptism, Wesley. Welcome to your new life. Welcome to God’s dream for you. And welcome to everyone in the next chapter of your baptism, and God’s dream for you. AMEN