Here are two sermons: Proper 22C2007 (Luke 17:5-10) at 8 AM and Holy Baptism (1 Corinthians 12:4-13) at 10 AM.
Proper 22C 2007 Luke 17:5-10
Often we find ourselves seeking help with issues of increasing our faith or overcoming doubts and uncertainty. Most of us
experience such needs. It is a natural part of our struggle to grow spiritually.
In today’s Gospel Jesus’ disciples made a logical and obvious request. They said, “Increase our faith.”
How would Jesus respond? By giving them pointers so they could have more faith? By helping them understand God better so
their faith could become deeper? By assuring them of God’s love so they would have fewer doubts? None of the above?
Some of the above? All of the above? All of the above and more?
Jesus assured the disciples that this was a fitting topic. He described the power of faith as being so strong that even
the tiniest bit of it would provide a force strong enough to order a tree uprooted and planted in the sea.
Then, however, Jesus immediately – as usual -- put a twist on their request and took the discussion to a new and unexpected
level. He surprises all Christians then and now by teaching an unusual lesson. Jesus startles his followers then and now
by telling them that the task of discipleship does not require very much faith at all.
What Jesus insisted is that all we need to do is to obey God and do our duty. He depicts each of his disciples as a humble
servant, a slave who tends sheep and plows fields. Jesus teaches us that a true disciple needs only enough faith to serve
and to care for God’s people with the attentiveness of a slave.
Furthermore, Jesus reminds his disciples not only of their duty to be hardworking servants, but to be servants who don’t
expect to be thanked. This, he says, constitutes what faith is. Surely a call for an unrecognized — and unthanked
— form of faith is not something many of us want to hear. Yet it is the truth of Jesus’ Gospel.
Faith, he tells us, is mostly a matter of duty within relationship.
Faith, he tells us, is not something that we can do alone.
Faith, he tells us, is lived out in interactions between two or more people.
The servant serves a master. Without a master, there is no servant. Without a servant, there is no master. Without our duty
to serve others, we have no faith.
Without this God-given obligation to one another, we revert to our selfish little worlds. Without this God-given obligation
our faith becomes self-serving—a security blanket or a ticket to a life of self-gratification.
Today at 10 AM we will baptize the latest grandchild of our Senior Warden. It reminds me that, all of us, following our
Baptismal promises, are always learning how to grow in Christ. We experience ever anew the power of God in our lives as we
understand more about faith as obedience to God. We gain in faith as we love God with all we are and have and love others
as we love ourselves: the great Summary of the Law
The faint hearted don’t want to hear that being a part of the Body of Christ is so much about giving, and doing so without
expecting to be thanked. Is that how we grow into the full stature of Christ?
According to Jesus, as we grow in Christian faith we will learn not to expect to be thanked but only to give ourselves away
for others, doing acts of faith and obeying God. In learning what our duty to God and our neighbor truly is, we grow in our
Adapted from a sermon by The Rev. Ken Kesselus for Proper 22C 2004, selected sermons, worship that works,
Holy Baptism 7 October 2007
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and
there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in every one. To each is given the manifestation
of the Spirit for the common good.”
We are gathered here today to baptize little Carol Remsen. The whole Church participates in the baptism of every child of
God. Not to mention the Holy Spirit and Jesus and God the Father-Creator – the whole Trinity and Triune God, the whole
company of heaven – they most of all are here with us today participating in this wonderful sacrament of Holy Baptism.
Whenever there is a baptism, God is present in the world acting in the world. And Carol Remsen’s baptism is the outward
and visible sign of the abundant and overflowing grace with which she and we are awash.
Those varieties of gifts and services and activities about which Saint Paul wrote: in her baptism, Carol Remsen will be empowered
and enabled to take her place in the fullness of her time to do the work which God has for her to do. The work will be given
to her and the gifts to do the work will be given to her as well. Just as God empowered Jesus in his baptism in the River
Jordan, so God empowers us through our own Baptism to carry on that work. Just as Carol Remsen will be empowered on this
day of her baptism.
Baptism is more than just simply a commitment on our part, more than a duty to which we are called. And Baptism, the sacrament
through which we enter the community and company of Jesus, the Church, is not just and not finally a set of hard promises
that we make. It is mutual covenant love, loving kindness, steadfast love, the love that never stops no matter what, the
kind of love embodied in the summary of the law: Love God with all that you are and have and love your neighbor as yourself.
On God’s part, Baptism is God lifting us out of the waters of chaos and death into a new life: the essence of what
occurs in Baptism, of which water and word are sign and symbol. That is what we celebrate about this little girl child and
what we celebrate as the truth about ourselves each and every time we do participate in the sacrament of Holy Baptism.
A young man, who had just become a father, said that he wasn't prepared for the tidal wave of emotions that swept over him
as he held his newborn daughter for the first time: the feeling of awe after witnessing the miracle of birth; the pure, unfiltered
joy; the pride; the love; the overwhelming sense of being responsible for this life; and the fear of failing her. He went
on to say that he wanted to tell her that he had dreamed of her long before she was born. He wanted her to know that she was
his. That he'd be there for her, no matter what, for the rest of his life. "I wonder," he said, "if that's how God feels
Indeed! Our baptism means that Jesus Christ stands behind us all our days for time and eternity. He puts His hands on our
shoulders and says, "You belong to me. Nothing can ever snatch you away.”
It is in our Baptism that we are given the gifts to carry out the services and participate in the activities for the common
good and especially for the love of God. We do not know yet what gifts Carol Remsen will be given. We know that she will
be given them. And we know that it is the responsibility of her parents and godparents and grandparents and great grand parents
to remind her of her Baptism and that her gifts are not hers for herself alone. To remind her that they are hers by the grace
and steadfast loving kindness of the sweet Lord who loves her. And that she will be given work – services and activities
– to do and these gifts are given to her for that doing.
That is why we baptize her with Holy Water in the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is why we anoint her with
oil. Anointing and laying on of hands has been and still is part of the setting aside and raising up of human beings for
significant tasks. For those who call themselves Christians, our Baptism is the first and most important ordination, consecration,
and empowerment of our lives in the priesthood of all believers.
That is what Baptism means for us – every day of our lives.
The candidate for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism will now be presented.