God is tired of waiting
Today is an odd day. It is a very important day in the life of the Church but one we don’t think about much. It comes fifty days after Easter. This year it’s in between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. And yet, to me, it feels most like Christmas. There is something special in the air. There is a party to be had and, perhaps, gifts to be opened.
I remember as a boy we would take turns opening up presents. Each kid would tear ravenously into their gift. When it was my Father’s turn, however, he would take his time. He would slowly peel off each piece of tape. He would then slowly unfold the wrapping paper. What took the kids six seconds took my father six minutes. The anticipation killed us!
I know of a single mother who raised four kids by herself. It seemed like each child had a different birthday party to go to every weekend. This meant another errand at Toys-R-Us or some unsuspecting birthday boy unwrapping a lightly used vegetable peeler. The young mother had had enough of both and devised a plan. Whenever she was out shopping and she saw an appropriate toy, puzzle, or poster that a child like hers might enjoy, she would buy it and wrap it at home. She slowly built up a surplus of wrapped toys for those Friday afternoons when one her own would say, “I forgot to tell you, Tim invited me to his birthday tomorrow.”
As the years went on and the kids grew up, the stockpile of presents was drawn down upon on fewer and fewer occasions. The box followed the mother around from downsizing to downsizing. One day as she was cleaning out her storage unit she found the box that she hadn’t much about in long time full of presents for young people.
The great preacher Sam Wells tells the story from some years ago of a man who’d left Ireland in search of a better life. He went to London and fell on hard times. He slept outside a lot, and over a few years grew weak and downhearted. One winter night he died in the snow. A couple of years earlier a wealthy widow had died in Killarney without a husband or children. When they tried to trace her nearest relative the trail ran cold with a man who’d apparently left Ireland for London some years before. It was the same man. That homeless man was a multi-millionaire. But he never knew it. He died a pauper’s death. The present remained in the box.
The presents were still in the box at Jerusalem. The Apostles had been waiting for ten days. They had been a little frightened. Jesus had told them some scary things. He told them that they would be continuing his work. Jesus told them that they would be helping to end all of the problems in the world just like he had done. These apostles would be the ones to continue the work of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and loving the unloved. And, most frightening of all, they would do even greater things than what Jesus had done.
I know I would be scared if Jesus told me that. Greater things than what Jesus did? It’s hard to imagine; almost feels sacrilegious to say. And yet those are Jesus words.
This is what’s in those twelve boxes in the upper room of Jerusalem.
Just like the those presents down in the storage room. Just like the man who died a homeless millionaire.
And there they waited and waited and waited.
And on the tenth day, God had had enough.
And he opened up those precious gifts, not like a meticulous father, but like a child dying to see what was underneath the wrapping.
Tina, Conner, Chloe, and Cooper today is the day of your baptism.
Today God’s love for you is so great that he not only wants to call you friends but sons and daughters.
Today you realize that you are the heirs of a great treasure in heaven.
Today is the beginning of something that is both scary and exciting and beautiful all at once.
Today is the day that God can no longer wait to unopen the gifts of you.
What these gifts are, I don’t know.
Perhaps you will be teachers.
Perhaps you will be healers.
Perhaps a priest or a deacon or even a bishop!
Perhaps you will be something else just as special.
Whatever the gift is, I know what it will be in service to.
It will be in service to opening up the world to God’s love.
It will be to make God’s love known in thought, word, and deed to everyone you meet.
It will be in service to opening up others to the same love we pray you know today.
Today who have been baptized remember our own Holy Spirit unwrapping.
We remember that we too are charged with spreading God’s love across our towns, countries, and indeed the whole world.
And that is why we give thanks to you four.
Thank you for being brave enough to be unopened.
It helps us be brave ourselves.
And it reminds us not to leave the presents unopened.
Because there is a world that is desperate need of our gifts.
It is time to unload the stockpile.
God can hardly stand it.
So why wait any longer.