A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONFESSION & FORGIVENESS

GATHERING SONG           “Lord of Light”           red book # 688

GREETING

KYRIE                                                          red book page 184 (set 8)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ZEPHANIAH 1:7, 12-18

PSALM 90 1-12

1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11

MATTHEW 25:14-30

SERMON                                                        Pastor Chris Halverson

Put on Christ that we may live with him.
Dear Charlotte, on behalf of the liturgists in the early ‘90’s who put together the Revised Common Lectionary, the set of daily and weekly bible readings that the majority of Protestants in America, and throughout the world, use…. I apologize.
I apologize for the pieces of scripture the Church reads on this the second to last Sunday in the church year—these readings that come on this joyous occasion of your Baptism:

“The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”

“I will bring such distress upon people that they shall walk like the blind; because they have sinned against the LORD, their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath.”
And
“Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid.”
Yikes.

Truly, I apologize, but I also recognize, that these words speak to a reality we all face, a truth of the human condition.
We do turn back to dust. It’s like William Falkner and the Buddha both say, “All Things Impermanent.” A reality we quite often choose to ignore.
There is, in this world, much to fear, many who are inclined to cruelty and greed, many instances of hurt and danger.
And though we try to shield those we love, and ourselves as well, from such things, through many means, it is true that, ultimately, such tools, including that of silver and gold, cannot save us.

So, I say to you Charlotte, and Petra and Gregory—to all of you dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
We’ve put on Christ, “God has destined us not for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him…”
Put on Christ, that we may live with him.
Let us pray

Put on Christ, that we may live with him.
Think about it. Your neighbor pops his head over the fence and tells you that he’s been given a grant for just a little under half a million dollars (a Talent calculated and converted to Middlesex County New Jersey pay scale)… half a million dollars to play with while his boss goes on a trip around the world. He know his boss will be back, this opportunity is limited, it is an impermanent situation.

Then, one night, you see him digging a hole in his back yard, stuffing wads of cash into the ground. You poke your head over the fence and ask him why he’s doing that, and he responds, “I’m afraid of my boss.”

You wonder to yourself about his sanity, and you point out to him, “a hole in the ground isn’t the safest place to put things… banks are usually a better place for money.”
But he responds again, “I’m afraid of my boss… this is the only way to keep things safe.”
And over the next few weeks he surrounds the hole with trip wires, and rigs up some cameras, and starts sleeping on his porch with a shotgun and a worried look on his face.
It’s a mess, the trip wires knocks him over when he tries to mow the lawn, the cameras are expensive to upkeep, he’s not really a gun guy and doesn’t know what he’s doing and eventually shoots himself in the foot and ends up in the emergency room.

And it can be just like that with us too.
It is so easy to become tight fisted and risk averse with all we have,
with our very lives.
It’s easy to burry; to set up a multitude of barriers to protect what God has given to us.
We can put on chain mail, and armor, and lock ourselves away, all to keep safe the scarce, impermanent, scraps we have.
Yes, believing all we have is scarce, can scare us into a bunker mentality.

It’s easy to do that—but Paul in 1st Thessalonians points us to another, more bountiful, reality; a better way to be.
Paul tells the Christians of Thessalonica that they may hear, day-in and day-out, of security being granted to them by the Roman State; peace kept by Roman Soldiers, armored up and hunkered down.
They may hear all this armor clanking along, but there is a peace and security beyond peace and security—an armor beyond armor—faith, love, and hope…
Or as Paul puts it, “The breastplate of faith and love, the helmet that is our hope in salvation.”
In other words, he is telling them, and telling us, to put on Christ Jesus—that our faith in Christ, his love of us, and the hope of salvation found in him, are true peace and true security.

I don’t know if you keep up with financial news, but some economists are saying the economy finally recovered last week, because for the first time since the crash of 2008 nearly 3 million people quit their jobs in a single month—they felt the economy is now safe and secure enough to quit and start something new, to risk a little.

Putting on Christ is kinda like that.
It is a reality that changes everything.
It allows us to risk a fall, knowing that God has already caught us.
It allows us to step out of our bunker, to tear down barriers, to loosen our fists and transform them into gracious open hands of friendship.
When we put on Christ, we may live with him, we may recognize that God is not a grumpy boss or master, but a generous parent offering us more than we’ll ever know, and therefore, we may live in openness to possibility.
We can live in gratitude to God and in generosity to our neighbor—a life truly worthy of the title, “Child of the Day,” as Paul call us.

Putting on Christ, that we may live in him, is nothing more, or less, than living into what was proclaimed to us at our Baptism, that God is faithful to us and has no intention of stopping being faithful to us.

Charlotte, you will be clothed with Christ in your baptism, and in that Baptism God promises to be faithful to you for your whole life through.
In moments of scarcity and impermanence,
put on Christ, remember your Baptism, for God’s love for you will not be shaken!
In moments of fear,
put on Christ, remember your Baptism, God will bring you cheer and praise.
In moments of self-centered belly-button gazing,
PLEASE! put on Christ, remember your Baptism, God will guide you to your neighbor in need.
In all of your moments God is leading your through the night into glorious day—God is clothing you with Christ that you may live with him.

HYMN of the DAY           “Borning Cry”           red book # 732

BAPTISM

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY ANTHEM           “Stand By Me”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS           “Lamb of God”

Also, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”, red book # 725, red book # 818

Sending

BLESSING

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG           “Oh, Happy Day When We Shall Stand”           red book # 441

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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