By the Rev. Darren Miner
Today is the feast of the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, one of four baptismal feasts in the church calendar. And in normal times, the sole focus of the day, and of this sermon, would be on the meaning of baptism. (And I do intend to get to that topic.) But first, I have to say something about what happened in this nation on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany.
This nation received a shock, to say the least. The President of the United States, either intentionally or unintentionally, incited an insurrection. The Capitol was taken by force and ransacked by a violent and angry mob. While the mob was still violating the Capitol, the President released a video addressed to the insurrectionists in which he said, “We love you. You’re very special.” Not exactly a blistering condemnation! The insurrection failed. But five people lost their lives. Four died trying to keep President Trump in power by means of violence, and one, a police officer, died trying to stop them. On one of the greatest feasts in the Christian calendar, the feast of the Epiphany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this nation had a very different kind of epiphany: that our democracy is in real peril.
But we can do something about it. We can, I believe, start mending this divided nation. And this is where our baptismal faith comes into play. At every baptism, the candidate is asked to renounce the Devil, the Father of Lies, and to vow to follow Jesus Christ as his or her only Lord and Savior.
Again and again, we are told in Holy Scripture that there is only one Anointed of God, only one Messiah, only one Christ. And when push comes to shove, we must follow him and only him. Sure, we can support our favorite politician. We can donate money to campaigns. We can work to get out the vote. But when we begin to see ourselves as a “faithful follower” or a “devoted disciple” of any politician, we are lost. I think that has happened to some of the people in this nation. They have become disciples of a false Messiah.
But we need to move on as a nation, to find a way to unite. This current division is deadly—both spiritually and literally! As I said earlier, it is not too late; there are still steps we can take to mend this nation. Step one: renounce the lies, just as every candidate for baptism renounces the Father of Lies. And that may mean you stop watching your favorite cable news channel and look for less politicized sources of news. Step two: ask for forgiveness for your transgressions and forgive those who have wronged you. None of us is without sin. Step three: Remember the humanity of your political opponents, whether they be Republicans or Democrats. For to demonize any other human being only strengthens our true Enemy, by which I mean the Devil. Lastly, we come to step four: hold fast to your one true allegiance. If you would call yourself a Christian, you must be a follower of Jesus Christ—not of Donald J. Trump and not of Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Never forget that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, that Jesus is the Light of the World, and that Jesus is our one true Lord. There can be no other.
With that in mind, let us pledge our undivided allegiance to Jesus Christ, as we recite that ancient affirmation of baptismal faith, known as the Apostles’ Creed.
© 2021 by Darren Miner. All rights reserved. Used by permission.