This past week I broke my laptop charging cord. Turns out that without the cord, your laptop battery starts to die pretty quick. And with all the electronic stores that have closed over the past decade (Radio Shack, Circuit City, Fryes), I realized my only option was Amazon to get a new one...so I didn't have a way to charge my laptop for a WHOLE day. Actually, I enjoyed the day. I did some sermon prep reading, made some phone calls and worked on a few small projects around the church that I had been putting off. But, there were things I couldn't do because I just didn't have the power. I couldn't connect my laptop to a power source. I could see the power source; but I had no way to plug in to it.
The Christian life isn't much different. We need to be regularly connected to the power source (God) and without him we fade pretty fast. We can try to run on our own power for a while, but we will wear out. And just being near the power source won't cut it...we have to connect to it. Jesus didn't have a laptop, so he used the idea of a vine and branches. He said if you disconnect you won't be fruitful. You have to stay connected to the source of life.
John 15:4 "No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
Dear sisters and brothers, let us connect to the true source of life...Jesus!
In Genesis 12, God calls a man named Abram (later God changes his name to Abraham which is how most of us know him) and promises him amazing things. God tells this man, a wandering shepherd, that he will give him a new and wonderful land and that he will give him many children and make his family into a great nation! It's almost too good to be true (in fact Abram's wife Sara laughs at the very idea when she hears it because it's so outrageous).
But, Abram isn't blessed just because God likes him or because he did something deserving of all these gifts...God blesses him for a reason. In verse 2, God says that Abram is blessed to "be a blessing."
You see Abram isn't supposed to keep these blessings to himself, he is supposed to share them (and this relationship he has found with God) with others; that's actually the whole point. Abram is a conduit of God's blessing. He is blessed, but only so that he can be a blessing to others and so that the blessings of God will continue to grow onward and upward to all people of the earth. In fact, you and I are part of that line of blessing that started with this very promise to Abram.
This week we will start a new sermon series called #blessed based off Jesus teachings in Matthew 5 where we find that the people Jesus calls blessed don't look like the people we might quickly consider to be blessed by our standards. But as we learn what it means to be blessed in the way Jesus teaches, remember that God's blessings are always meant to be shared...that we are to be conduits of God's blessings to others; just like Abram. We are blessed to "be a blessing."
This week we have something wonderful to celebrate, we have three people ready to get baptized and one other who is rededicating her baptismal vows. Baptism Sundays are some of my favorite Sundays at Six Points. I love getting the chance to see all the family and friends who come to support the persons being baptized. I love the hugs and high fives and smiles both before and after the baptism. I especially love seeing the wet footprints in the carpet as the person leaves the baptism tank...those are such a powerful testimony of the life changing work of Jesus who has washed away our sins and left us overflowing with his love.
But there is one part I love that none of you get to see. In my office I meet with each and every person who wants to get baptized before they decide to take that public step. We sit and talk about baptism. We discuss what it is, what it means and why it matters. I get to ask them questions and allow them to ask me questions. I get to hear their stories about why they want to be baptized and what God has done in their lives. It's a beautiful moment and one I cherish. And in that conversation, I remind them that the water in the tank isn't special...it's just regular old water. The water doesn't save them or wash away their sins; Jesus does. The water is only a physical symbol that reminds us of the work that Jesus has already done in our hearts when he forgave us and set us free.
So this Sunday we will celebrate with those who are baptized...and I hope we go nuts. I hope we clap, whistle, high five, fist bump, hug and enjoy this special day; but let us remember the true miracle isn't really about water; it's about the grace that Jesus poured out on us and in us when we accepted his free gift of salvation.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God."