Sermon preached on Aug. 12, 2012 at St. Thomas Church by Bob Rowlands

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“NAMES”

 

This morning, in this service, we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

 

One of the significant aspects of Baptism is the giving of a name.

 

In the course of being baptized, the young people who are baptized this morning will receive their Christian names. This is why baptisms are often called “Christenings”.

 

So important has this aspect of Holy Baptism been deemed, that, over the years, the word “christening” has come to mean “giving a name” to just about anything — even a boat.

 

Sure, Baptism is the “Rite of Initiation” in which the children of committed Christian parents are welcomed into membership of the Family of God.

 

And, sure, in Baptism, Christian parents are dedicating their child to God, saying, in effect: “Lord, you’ve given us this child. But, now we are giving him back to you. And, as the privileged care-givers of this, YOUR child, we promise to raise him to be the best son, to be the best SERVANT that you could ask for — living a life dedicated to making this world a better place in which to live.”

 

All that is profoundly true………….

 

— In Baptism, children are welcomed into the Church, which is the Family of God.

 

— And, in Baptism, Christian parents dedicate their children to God, promising to raise them, on God’s behalf, to be the best that they can be.

 

But, the point that I want to make is that, in Baptism, we are also “christened” (in the popular sense of the word) because it is at Baptism that we are given our Christian names.

 

 

Now, I cannot emphasize just how important this is, because, God knows each one of us by name. (God knows everything about us. He knows us personally. He knows us intimately. And He knows us by the name we were given at Baptism.)

 

 

But God also has a name! And we know what that Name is because, in the Old Testament, in the Book of Exodus, God told us His Name.

 

You remember the story………………

 

 

One day, while Moses was out, tending his sheep, he saw an unusual sight. He saw burning bush.

But, while this bush was burning, Moses noticed that it was not being consumed by the fire. So, Moses approached this burning bush for a closer look.

 

And, as Moses approached the bush, God called-out to him, calling him by name. “Moses!” God said. “Boy, do I have a job for you! It’s a really important job — a job of historic proportions.”

 

“You must rescue my people, in Egypt, who are being forced to work as slaves. You must go to Egypt & rescue them & lead them out of slavery into a land that I will give them.”

 

But Moses said to God: “Well, suppose I do what you’re asking me to do & I go to Egypt? When get there, your people aren’t going to pay any attention to ME. So, who shall I say has sent me?”

 

And, it was then that God told Moses HIS name. God said: “I AM THAT I AM. Tell my people in Egypt that I AM has sent you.”

 

 

“I AM”, therefore, is God’s name. And, that’s why it is not surprising that, when, 2,000 years ago,

God decided to express Himself as a human being in Jesus Christ, Jesus referred to himself in the very same way. In all four of the gospels in the New Testament, whenever Jesus is talking about Himself, whenever Jesus is explaining to His disciples WHO He is & WHAT He is, He begins by saying: “I am…….”

 

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I/ For example, in our reading this morning from St. John’s gospel, Jesus says: “I am………the Bread of Life.”

 

“Whoever comes to me will never hunger, because I am the living bread that has come from heaven. And whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”

 

What does Jesus mean when He says this?

 

Well, obviously, Bread is the “staff of life”. Historically, when people have rioted because they were hungry, they’ve cried-out for “bread”.

 

But, in the Scriptures, “bread” is often used as a symbol for spiritual food. Every single person, by virtue of being human, has a built-in hunger for God. There is a “God-shaped vacuum” inside the heart of every one of us.

 

People everywhere are spiritually hungry for the Bread of Life. There’s a gnawing emptiness at the very centre of their being, that’s crying-out to be filled. Many of them are feeling it so intensely that it’s consuming them. They may not understand what it is exactly, but it’s there nevertheless!!!!

 

And Jesus, who says “I am the Bread of Life,” is the only One who can satisfy that built-in spiritual hunger that afflicts us all.

 

And that hunger can (and will) be satisfied, later, in this service, if we, in faith, go forward to receive the Body of Christ, the “Bread of Life”.

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II/ But, Jesus also says: “I am…………………….the Light of the World”.

 

We may not understand exactly what “light” is (in terms of physics), but we do know how important it is. We know that there would be no life on this planet (plant, animal, or human) without the light that we get from the sun. And, what the sun is to the earth, Jesus is to the human heart. Jesus says: “I am the Light of the World. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

 

Many of us have been groping our way through life. We have been stumbling & faltering, as if we were wandering around in darkness. Many of us were baptized & confirmed in the Church, but we still have a deep spiritual need. Deep in our hearts, we lack the peace, the joy, the satisfaction, that only Jesus can give us.

 

But, Jesus wants to bring the Light of His Presence into our hearts. And, if we are willing to open our hearts to Him, He will — because Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the One who can light up the pathways of life for every one of us.

 

But Jesus also says something else: He says: “YOU are the light of the world.”

 

Jesus wants us Christians to be lights in a world of darkness. He wants us, in the living of our lives, to reflect the light that comes from Him. Wherever we live, wherever we work, people should be able to look at us & see the light of Jesus shining in our lives.

 

And they will begin to ask: “What is it, that makes him (or her) different from other people?”

And we will be able to tell them: “Jesus makes all the difference in my life. Because He is the Light who makes me shine.”

 

In a few moments, every child who is baptized will receive a candle with the words: “Receive the light of Christ. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” And they will!!! ………………because Jesus says: “I am the Light of the World.”

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III/ But Jesus also says: “I am………….the Way, the Truth, & the Life.”

 

“I am the Way, the Truth, & the Life. No one comes unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus is the “Truth”. Jesus is the embodiment of ALL truth: all scientific truth, all philosophical truth, all truth, period. Only in Him can we find all the answers to life’s problems.

 

And Jesus is the “Way”: The Way to God, the Way to Life Eternal.

 

And Jesus is the ONLY way. He says it plainly: “No one comes unto the Father, but by me.”

 

That’s why each one of us must, at some time in the course of our lives, make a conscious decision to accept, or to reject, Jesus.

 

We can do it this morning in this double-barreled service of Holy Baptism & Holy Communion.

 

We can say: “Jesus, I believe in you. I repent of my sins & I accept you as my Savior. Come into my heart today and become the Lord of my life, the Sovereign of my existence.”

 

 

That’s ALL we have to do. But, when we do it, our lives will be changed, forever!!!!

 

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