07 March 2009

For Katharina's Baptism Day

Do you wish to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ Jesus? Would you follow Him, in order to be with Him where He is, both now and forever? Then you must be taught by Him and learn from Him.

Not only that, but your ongoing catechesis focuses your attention on who this Jesus is; and the big question is: What do you think of Him?

What do the people say? What is the public opinion of Jesus? He’s a preacher of the Word of God, a preacher of repentance; another prophet, and a baptizer. Yes, He is all of that; and He is more.

But still the question is put to you: Not only what you think, but who do you say that Jesus is? What do your words and actions confess concerning Him? What do you say about Jesus in your vocation as a Christian, and in your place in the world?

If your life says nothing at all about Jesus, then how shall your life be saved?

But what, then?

Who is this Jesus?

He is the Christ, the Lord’s Anointed. So you also have confessed, by the grace of God the Father, in the rite of Holy Baptism. So what does this mean for Him? And what does it mean for you?

Jesus, the Son of the living God, is anointed by the Spirit of His Father to be the Son of Man; wherefore He must suffer many things, and die, and rise again for you and your salvation. And if you are His disciple, taught by Him to carry the cross and follow Him, then you also suffer and die and rise again.

Jesus puts this to you plainly. Will you accept it, and bear it? Will He be your Lord and your God? Or will you buck and resist His Word, and would you presume to rebuke Him for His Cross?


Get back in line behind Jesus, and follow Him. Deny yourself, take up the Cross, and follow Him. Do not set your heart and mind on your own interests, and do not walk according to the worldly wisdom of self-preservation. But give attention to the Word of God. Fear, love, and trust in Him.

This is the work of the Cross in your body and life here on earth. The Cross puts you to death, so that you may really live forever. That work of the Cross begins and remains rooted in your Baptism, and it continues all your days.

Because real life and the true God are found, not where you are prone to look (that is, within yourself), but in Christ, crucified and risen; in His Word of the Gospel, the forgiveness of all your sins; and in His holy flesh and blood. This promise is for you and for your children. Thus, not only must you be put to death to yourself, to your sin and to the world, but so also your children must be crucified, put to death and buried with Christ Jesus, if you would give them the salvation of their souls and the life everlasting.

Each of you is called to deny yourself, to take up the Cross, and to follow Jesus. But you parents, you fathers in particular, are called to catechize your children in this way of the Cross. That means teaching them the Word of Christ Jesus within your home and family, and within the household and family of the Church. It means, also, that you prioritize the Gospel of the Cross in the way you order and arrange your own life and theirs. Do not live for the acquisition of worldly goods, which perish, but let all else be bent toward the storing up of treasures in heaven, which are found only in Christ and His Gospel.

To live by faith in Him puts you and your children at odds with this adulterous and sinful generation; and it puts you at odds with yourself, within your own sinful heart.

To live according to His Word, by faith, under His Cross, is difficult and painful. It is beyond your strength, and seemingly impossible altogether. Like the promise of God to ancient Abraham and barren Sarah, and His covenant with them; which was finally fulfilled, for them and you, in the Cross of Christ.

The guarantee and certainty of this faith, by which you have peace, hope, love and joy in the midst of tribulation, suffering, setbacks and temporary disappointments, is that same Cross and Passion of Christ Himself, who is God in the flesh, and in His bodily Resurrection from death and the grave to eternal life. He has not failed, and your faith in Him shall not be disappointed.

It is because of this Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, that you are reconciled to God.

Live and walk in Him, therefore; in the surety of what He has done, and in the way that He has gone. There alone is where your life is, and there is no life anywhere else.

Now, you are in and with Christ Jesus, because He has first of all established Himself for you, and He has given Himself for you. So has He also given Himself to you, and established you in Himself. That is the gift and the good work that He has granted to you (and Katharina) in the waters of Holy Baptism. That is what He gives you with His body and His blood in the Holy Communion.

Thus, it is in Christ that you now stand before God, righteous and holy, at peace, and hopeful even in the face of death. So, too, your safety and security in Christ remain sure and certain, no matter how the world may hate you and hurt you, or despise and dismiss you, or ignore you as of no consequence. No matter how your own frail heart may waver or quail in fear; as even Abraham’s heart did at times.

God’s promises to Abraham have indeed been fully accomplished, also for you, in the holy Seed of father Abraham, that is, the incarnate Son of God, Christ Jesus, conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is fruitful, and He multiplies His family among all the nations of the earth.

You, and all who are born again by the washing of water with the Word and Spirit of Christ, are children of Abraham by grace, through faith in the One who is both Abraham’s Son and Abraham’s Lord. So you are an heir of God’s promises to Abraham. Yes, and much more than that, you are a son of God in Christ; for He is counted to you as righteousness.

So does God your Father in heaven give life to you and to your mortal flesh, for both body and soul, by the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus. Thus, by the power of His indestructible life, you also live under His Cross and in His Resurrection. Yes, even though you die, yet shall you live.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Rev. James Leistico said...

rejoicing with you as I have over the past nine months, now in the new birth to be granted to your Katharina and my Erin and Sophia!

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Likewise, dear brother. The Lord be with you and your family, and continue to pour out the riches of His Holy Spirit upon your two littlest ones. Christ be praised!