BAPTISM OF THE LORD
LUKE 3: 15-16, 21-22
JANUARY 10, 2010
This past Friday began the annual selling of Girl Scout cookies. I like Girl Scout cookies. I am open to buying a few boxes. My understanding of the Girl Scouts is that it helps young girls to develop their gifts and talents so that they can be leaders in society as adults. Selling cookies seems like a good way to develop some of these talents. I support this. So I am not going to buy cookies from someone's mother who stands outside of the supermarket at a table stacked with cookies. I am not going to fill out a sales form that some parent brings around.
I want the Girl Scout to be dressed in her uniform as a sign that she is proud to be a Girl Scout. I want her to come to where I work or live, and bring pictures of all eight types of cookies and tell me what is in them. Then I may ask some questions about the cookies. I want her to tell me why such and such is a really good cookie. Sell me! Why? I think that it will give her the chance to prepare a presentation and present herself to the adult world. It will certainly deal with any fears that she might otherwise have. It will help to accomplish a bit of what the Girl Scouts were founded to do, develop the gifts and talents of girls that will be so useful to them in later life. Selling cookies makes the girl a public person in a new way, standing up for something she believes in.
It is the same way with our baptism. Before Jesus is baptized, he lived a rather private life. Now he is going public with his teaching, healing, preaching, and finally his crucifixion, death and resurrection. Talk about putting your gifts and talents out there! Most of us were baptized as babies, but some as adults. We all received 7 gifts and 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. That is a lot a talent. It is all potential. At some point we are meant to be more public with all our freely received gifts. We cannot leave it up to the professional church people or priests to be the only public witnesses of our faith, any more than Girl Scouts can leave it to their mothers to sell cookies.
The time may come when someone wants to speak about faith or against faith. Some may be seekers. Some want to put down our religion or spiritual path. That may well be the time to speak up with one who is searching or one who is negative. There may be opportunities to be of service in our church and community in which it is suggested that we get involved.
Not everyone liked Jesus when he got more public about his gifts and talents. Not everyone will want to buy cookies from the Girl Scout who tries to sell them. So move on to the next person. Jesus did. The Girl Scout may not sell the cookies to someone but she will overcome her fears, and learn not to take rejection so personally. The point is you are becoming all God made you to be. Very few people actually followed Jesus to the cross, but that did not stop him. We would not be here in this gathered congregation had he given up because of "failure" to be popular or successful as the culture defines success.
We never lose our baptism gifts. But they can go dormant. Fear, complacency and too much focus on self are just three ways that prevent us from becoming all that we are meant to be with our baptism gifts and fruits.