Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Thursday, January 16, 2014


The Baptism of our LORD: 

Like Jesus, We are Also God's Beloved

(Text Isaiah 42:1-9; Acts 10:34-34-43; Matthew3:13-17)

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog, a sermon from a good friend, The Rev. Tinh Tang Huynh, Rector of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, an Anglo-Vietnamese Parish in Falls Church, Virginia, USA, delivered last Jan. 12, 2014.

Recently I watched on YouTube a two-year old Japanese boy singing with his parents the song, "God will take care of you." He was so cute, and he sang so well, with pitch right on. He had no fear of the crowd. I was so fascinated, and so was his audience who gave him loud cheers. What also impressed me was the faith as revealed in the singing of his parents. 

Note: if you want to see this video, copy and paste the link in your browser. -Fred)


I also sang this song in Vietnamese when I was growing up. 

Christians all over the world proclaim the same message, “God will take care of you." Yet, sometimes, we do forget that message.

In the sixth century before Christ, the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon. The atrocities they suffered are written in the Book of Kings, in the Old Testament.
At his defeat, the Jewish king had to witness the killing of his sons, and his eyes were then removed by the enemies, and most of the Jewish men were taken to Babylon.
The passage from Isaiah that we read this morning was spoken by the prophet
who dared to speak the word of hope to those in pain.

"Thus says the LORD, 'Here is my servant...I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.’ “In other words, “You exiles longing for the homeland;
You who are weary saying, 'Give me a break’; You who are anxious about tomorrow:
Listen, God will take care of you."

How could Isaiah say the above lines in the midst of such tragedy?

The same question is asked of the psalmist who says in Psalm 89 that we read this morning. How could they utter those words of hope amidst adversity? The psalmist spoke of God's power upon even the mighty waters. He says that the voice of the Lord is full of majesty, breaking the huge trees, flashing forth flames of fire, shaking the wilderness, and stripping the forest bare.

And yet this very God loves his people. He uses his words to calm the stormy sea. "He gives strength to his people, and blesses them with peace." These are Isaiah's words to those who think or say that God has forgotten them: “Listen, God has not forgotten you. It's just you who chooses to focus on your problems and let’s yourself fall into despair."

In the Christian tradition, we name this Sunday "The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The Gospel story we read this morning is called a theophany. It is a happening in which one has a vision and experience of the appearance of God. It is not the appearance of a god who is stern or unforgiving. It is the appearance of God the Creator, the Father who calls humanity beloved. It is the manifestation of the God who cares.

Somehow, John the Baptist knew that the Savior is near. He must have been somewhere very close to him. He looks forward to meeting the Son of God. The faith of John the Baptist was childlike. He waited, and he trusted in the LORD. He had only one thing in his mind, the LORD himself.

This is exactly what the writer of Matthew is about. In another place of the same gospel we find these words: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
And all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). The theme keeps ringing in the hearts of believers: Seek Him first, and He will take care of you."

There are two things that are essential in the life of the Christian, which we sum up in today's Collect (prayer of the day): First, we are to keep the covenant we made in baptism; second, we are to boldly confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.

In the Collect, we say we are baptized into Jesus' Name, not merely baptized in His Name. As baptized Christian we are one with Christ. Like Jesus, we are beloved children of God. Like Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit. God calls us not to let the things of this world to distract us from our 'belovedness.' 

The Lord has come. John witnessed his appearance. Many Christians all over the world witness his presence, in many different ways. The Lord came in meekness and humility. Not counting his majesty, he brought to us peace and healing. Can we claim our belovedness each time anxiety hit us? God will take care of us, no matter how challenging life can be. Amen.
The Rev. Tinh (seated 2nd from left) also served as Secretary of the Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Council.This is the 2009 photo of the previous EAM Council,  meeting in Dayspring Conference Center near Tampa, Florida.

No comments:

Post a Comment