Sermon for 1/11/15 Mark 1:4-11 Baptism of Christ

Last week, I talked a bit about New Year’s resolutions. I also talked a bit about how easily we give up on those resolutions. Remember, I shared that the average New Year’s resolution only lasts about 2 weeks, so we’re getting close to a breaking point. Of course, I thought a lot about resolutions this week. I have been inundated by typical commercials that show right after the New Year holiday: diet commercials, commercials for discounted gym equipment, and commercials for botox (and other beauty products). I’ve also seen stories on the morning news stations on how to keep those resolutions. There have been stories like “how to save $20 this month with just these 5 easy steps” or “what you can do now to take the first step towards an organized life.” And even if I didn’t watch television (or listen to the radio) when I log onto the internet (especially Facebook) I see more ads that target the same products. As hard as I try, I can’t escape the insanity. And I get it, I really do. The business of “bettering” people must be a good money maker. After all, it is estimated that women spend $15,000 in their lifetime on beauty products. Men, you’re not that far behind with an estimated $12,000 (and that doesn’t count the creams you use when you think we’re not looking).

What this all comes down to is this, somewhere along the way, we somehow got the idea into our heads that we are not good enough. Now, I may not necessarily be talking about you, but I’m speaking of the whole of society. Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that we’re not skinny or fit enough. Enter in Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, Nurti-System, the gym, Jane Fonda, and Richard Simmons. Somewhere along the way, we got the idea that we’re not pretty enough or that we don’t look young enough. Enter in Botox, miracle creams, Clinique brand stuff, “maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Mabeline,” and of course, Rogaine! And if none of this works and you still can’t cure what ails you, don’t worry, there is some kind of drug out there for you–as seen advertised on television. Of course, the side effects of the medication could be: dizziness, sleepiness, dry mouth, constipation, frequent urination, infrequent urination, weight gain, weight loss, confusion, suicidal thoughts, and death. And here’s what all of these products are telling you: you’re not good enough. You are not enough just the way that God made you. You are imperfect. You are flawed.

And maybe I’m just speaking for myself here, but I rely so much on the approval of other people. You all know that I love social media; things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Here is the beauty of social media and why people like it: they offer affirmation. On Facebook if you say something, post something, or have a picture that people enjoy they can click the “thumbs up” button to “like it”: affirmation. On Twitter, if you say something people like, not only can they repeat what you’ve said to their followers, but they can also give what you’ve said “a star”: affirmation. On Instagram if people like your picture they will give it a simple tap and then you get a “heart”: affirmation. On Pinterest, people can look at what you like and then re-pin it which serves as affirmation. No matter where I go on social media, I can get a little affirmation. Just one thumbs up, one heart, one star, one re-pin and it’s like I’ve gotten a hit of my favorite drug.

How in the world is the church supposed to compete with all of this? We have television, radio, and print ads telling us that we’re not enough. And then we have social media giving us just little small hits of affirmation. We’re in this weird sado-masochistic relationship with everything around us. How can we quiet everything around us long enough to hear the promises that God makes to us? How can we cut through everything that tells us we’re not enough. I don’t know about you, but I long to hear “you are good enough” or even “you are beautiful.” It gets harder and harder the older we get to hear those things, even if they’re being said to us, and it has nothing to do with hearing. As we get older, the voices in our heads get louder. The tapes we play constantly in  our heads that tell us we’re not enough are on full volume and repeat day after day. What are we to do?

All we need is a moment. All we need is just a few seconds. Just a few ticks of the clock to remind us of who we are and who we belong to. In our baptism, God gives us the stamp of approval, so to speak. Because it doesn’t matter what society tells us we are or are not. It doesn’t matter what we see in the mirror. It doesn’t matter what the number on the scale tells us. It doesn’t matter how many likes, or hearts, or stars we’ve received. We have all already received the only affirmation we need and really, the only affirmation we need to remember. We have been marked with the cross of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit forever.

When the noise gets to be too much. When the tape in your head gets to be too loud. When the voices of negativity start making a little too much sense, you have a built in mute button. (trace cross on forehead) This is your mute button. Because no matter what, this is your core identity. (trace cross on forehead) You have already been called and claimed by the one person that means the most: God. Not only have you been called and claimed by God, but you were created in God’s image! This means that God crafted you by using the best possible template. And I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: God don’t make no junk.

So you’ve got a few wrinkles? God was with you when you worried yourself into those wrinkles. So your hair may not be as thick as you’d like it to; God had a hand on your shoulder every time you were stressed and tearing it out. Maybe you’re a little thicker in the mid-section than you’d like to be. God still was with you as you took celebratory bites and as you were comfort eating as well. If God drove a car, there wouldn’t be enough room on the bumper for all of the stickers needed to brag about us. What God says to Jesus on the day of his baptism is the same thing that is said to us on the day we are baptised: you are God’s beloved. With you, God is well pleased.

Every time you take the opportunity to remind yourself of God’s stamp of approval (trace cross on forehead) the noise gets less and less. Every time you take the opportunity to remind yourself of God’s stamp of approval (trace cross on forehead) the power that we give to the people and products that tell us we’re not awesome goes away. And every single time you take the opportunity to remind yourself of God’s stamp of approval (trace cross on forehead) the sin that has a hold of us loosens its grip and is washed away. You are amazing. You are enough. You are beautiful. You are beloved. But, don’t take my word for it. Feel it for yourself. (Trace cross on forehead)

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