Happy Father’s Day. Happy Juneteenth. Happy Pride Month. All good and celebratory things… that I’m not going to talk about.
Instead, I’m going to do something scandalous today for my last sermon. It’s going to be kind of racy, you ready?… I’m going to disagree with Yoda.
Gasp. Pastor A.J.! I mean good thing it's your last Sunday.
So Yoda famously says, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
And I gotta say… I really think that well, faith is just a lot of trying.
So the thing about this is really, that we can try and try. We try to love God fully, but we always find some doubt. We try to love our neighbors, but I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes people are the worst.
“Do or do not, there is no try.” Frankly, I think all we do is try.
I really think this is what faith is. Trying.
But maybe not trying in the way you think. We are not trying to be the perfect Christians. We are not trying to be the most holy and or devout person in the church.
Because the thing is that we can’t.
It’s like, I played soccer growing up and there were days that I know we gave it everything we had, 110%, maximum effort, and well, we still lost.
We went to the Orioles game yesterday, and it was a good game. They were ahead then behind, then tied up going into the 9th. They looked great, best Orioles performance I’ve seen in awhile, and you know what? They still lost.
We aren’t trying to “win” as a Christian. We couldn’t even if we did try to play that game… for lots of reasons, but I won’t go down my structural sin tangent today, most of you have heard it enough.
In our Galatians reading for today, (which by the way the Holy Spirit teed me up nicely for a baptism Sunday with this one.
Anyways, in our Galatians text,) we hear that when Christ came we have been justified. Now what the heck is this? Justified by grace through faith. (heard that one maybe? Lutherans like to say that one a lot)
We are made holy through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Try and try and try, but we cannot do it without Christ.
No, our trying is not to be perfect, but rather we are given this perfection in the justification of Christ. So what are we trying to do? To live in response to this gift.
And that is where we begin with baptism. When we are baptized we are clothed with Christ and showered with the holy promises of God.
This gift is given to us.
But we make a promise back.
Now this is where I say it’s “trying” BECAUSE it's not exactly a quid pro quo contract. Because if we fall short of our end of the deal, and as we have established, we will… guess what? God doesn’t take it back. It’s a gift.
So really, we make a faithful promise to try.
And when we baptize Finley into this great body of Christ, that is what we are welcoming her into. The “Great Trying.”
In our baptismal promises that were said for us when we were baptized and were reaffirmed if you did confirmation, we said we will:
live among God’s faithful people,
Come to the word of God and the holy supper,
teach her the Lord’s Prayer,
The Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
read the holy scriptures,
and nurture our faith and prayer,
so that we may learn to trust God,
proclaim Christ through word and deed,
care for others and the world God made,
and work for justice and peace.
(Lutheran, Episcopalian, Catholic, we all made these promises.) Hefty promises.
I was explaining this a few times this weekend that we, Lutherans, typically only do baptisms within the Sunday services because this is when the community is gathered. And the community is a part of the baptismal promises too. The community gathered promises to try and support the newly baptized because we are all in this together.
We are not trying to live up to these promises alone! We are all members of the body of Christ. A community.
So to Finley, my promise to you is that you are not alone. And I will try alongside you as a fellow Christian.
I will try to learn, read, and grow in my faith alongside you.
I will try to help you proclaim God’s amazing grace given through Christ and the beauty of this gift.
I will help you to try as we fight for justice and peace. I will teach you about the beauty and gifts of each of God’s children of all different colors, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, and abilities. I will try with you to create a more loving and safe world for them.
I will help you try to care for others and the created world that God made. I will help you try to recycle, plant trees and flowers, and teach you to care for God’s creatures.
And as I try to fulfill my own baptismal promises, I will try to let you know every single day that you are a beloved child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made exactly the way you are in God’s own image.