Sermon for the Holy Trinity, Sunday, June 7, 2020, preached by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich.
[Jesus said]: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
Your name is a special thing. It identifies you and your family. But I’m not talking about your first, middle, and last name given to you at your birth. I’m talking about the Triune name of God that He placed upon you in your baptism. This name proclaims who you are. This name proclaims whose you are. You belong to the Lord, a baptized child of God. YOU BEAR HIS TRIUNE NAME, AND YOU LIVE IN THAT NAME.
We too easily think about our baptisms as being a thing of the past. Whether we were baptized decades ago or just last week, we think of it as history. But your baptism isn’t history. It’s a present reality. It’s who you are right now, at this very moment, and it’s who you will be tomorrow and the day after that, and that day after that, all the way into eternity. You’re the Father’s creation. You’re the Son’s redeemed. You’re the Spirit’s sanctified.
You’re the Father’s creation. Contrary to the popular theory of evolution that you’ve been taught in school and read about in the natural history museums and see on the Discovery channel, you’re the purposeful creation of God. Humanity isn’t an accident. You’re not an accident. The Lord has purposely given you life. The Psalmist praises God saying, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps 139:13-14). God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you. He intimately put you together. Nothing else in creation was made in this way.
God brought all things into existence by speaking. He said “Let there be,” and there was. But that’s not how God made humanity. He made you and me by forming us out of the dust of the ground and breathing the breath of life into us. He got His hands dirty and He created us in His own image. This can’t be said about anything else in creation, only us. We are the crown of His creation, created in His image. And because of this life has value. All life matters to God.
This is something we need to constantly hear, because sinfully we don’t think all life matters. We put qualifiers on life. Society says the life of the unborn child is less valuable than the life of the mother. And if the birth of that child puts too much of a burden on the, well then, kill it. The same can be said about the elderly and those with disabilities. With sin we view them as useless and a drain on resources and time. Our culture is a culture of death, thinking it’s better for people to die than for us to be “burdened” by them.
We let superficial differences, like the color of our skin, the language we speak, the places we’re from, we let these things divide us. Our sin makes these divisions grow, getting deeper and wider, leading to racism, hate, and disdain. Our sin bursts forth and refuses to think of others. We don’t love and care for others. We only love and care for ourselves, our wants, our desires. These are the things we value. And if we have to trespass against someone’s life to get what we want, well so be it. Our sinful Old Adam doesn’t want life, but death. We need to be saved from this. We need to be redeemed from this; and we are in Christ.
After the Flood, God said to Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9:6). This is what we deserve. We deserve to have our blood shed because of our sin. We don’t value the life God created. And yet, this blood punishment, this death sentence, it hasn’t been placed on you, but on God’s own Son.
You’re the Son’s redeemed, purchased and won from all sin and death with His holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death on the cross. Christ gave His life for yours. He died so you’d live. He died so that all would live. God loves all the lives He’s created that He willingly sacrificed the life of His only begotten Son. That’s what Peter and all the other apostles proclaimed in all those different languages on Pentecost. Christ died not just for your sin and mine, but for the sin of the all world. He desires all to be saved. Christ sent out the apostles to baptize all nations, so that we all would be saved; so that we all would receive life, so that we all would receive His promised Spirit
You’ve received His promised Spirit. You’re the Spirit’s sanctified. You’re God’s holy people, bearing the sign of the cross, bearing God’s name. And with the help of the Spirit you live lives that honor His name.
You’re God’s holy people, and as such, you need to live like it. Scripture and the Small Catechism tells us what our baptism means. It means the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires. It means we need to repent of all the times we haven’t valued life. It means the new man should daily emerge and live before God in righteousness and purity forever. It means we show Christ’s righteousness as we love our neighbors, valuing their life, helping them in their needs. It means we forgive as we’ve been forgiven. We can’t let hate and disdain rule our lives. We need to repent of it and forgive. On our own we fail at this, but God has given you His Spirit, and He will enable you to do this.
You are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You’re born again, born from above, born for everlasting life. You’re a child of God. Live as His creation, thanking Him for your life, and the life of all people. Live as His redeemed, repenting of your sin, seeking His forgiveness and salvation in Christ. And live as His sanctified, with holy lives that honor His name. In Jesus’ name...Amen.