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good morning friends how you doing my name’s alex I’m one of the pastors here greetings on this wonderful daylight savings day a day that means nothing to you if you have small children as I do it’s uh it’s just this blip I it’s not that I’m mad at you guys I just resent you all to be honest I uh my kids got up uh five because they thought it was six and their life continued as it had the days before that so anyway I don’t know what I’m doing I’m just complaining um so we’re going to jump into our series on acts we’re in chapter 16. we’re going to start here I’m going to start by telling you a story and I’m just going to trust you just to hold on to this story for a while and we’ll we’ll kind of come back to it after a bit a man is traveling for work he’s in an airport he’s flying from seattle to houston and while he’s sitting at the bar waiting for his flight to board a beautiful woman comes over to him and says would you like to have a drink with me and he’s

like I absolutely would this is something I’ve been hoping would happen the whole of my life and it never has until this day I would love to have a drink with you and so she goes off and she comes back from the bar with a couple of bottles of beer and that’s the last thing he remembers before waking up in a bathtub of water and ice he begins to panic and he looks at the wall in front of him and there’s a sign that says don’t move call 911. looks to his right and there’s a phone sat by the the bathtub and he picks up the phone calls 9-1-1 and says I don’t know what to tell you but I I just woke up in a bathtub full of water of an ice and the sign says call 9-1-1 and the the person on the end of the line says don’t panic and he says that’s easy for you to say I mean this is a panicky situation no he says okay what should I do and the lady says well I want you to reach behind your back and can you find a tube in your lower back and he

said yes I can there’s a tube coming out of out of my back and she said okay what’s happened is this there’s a gang of criminals that have been harvesting people’s organs you’ve fallen victim to one of their schemes we’re going to send someone to be with you straight away now for a while this story was so common that everybody in us of a certain age in a certain period had a friend of a friend that this had happened to and yet there’s not one single statistical case of this ever happening anywhere in the united states it’s just never ever taken place and yet the story is so sticky that I’m going to ask you in about 20 minutes what you remember about the story I’m not going to actually ask you to answer but I’m just going to ask you to recollect the story and I would predict you can remember 95 of the details there’s something about story that

engages our minds and connects with our hearts that ultimately is transformative in a way that just information never is so that being said we’ll come back to it but for now let’s read a story we’re going to read acts chapter 16 starting in verse 16. if you have a text we’ll go through it verse by verse together but for now I’m just going to read down to verse 30 1. once when we were going to the place of prayer we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future she earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling she followed paul and the rest of us shouting these men are servants of the most high guard who are telling you the way to be saved she kept this up for many days finally paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit in the name of Jesus christ I command you to come out of her at that moment the spirit left her when her owners realized that their hope

of making any money was gone they seized paul and silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities they brought them from before the magistrates and said these men are jews they are throwing our city into uproar by advocating customs and lawful for us romans to accept or practice the crowd joined in the attack against paul and silas the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods after they had been severely flogged they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully when he received these orders he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks about midnight paul and silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken at once all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s

chains came loose the jailer woke up and when the prison doors open and when he saw the prison doors open he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped but paul shouted don’t harm yourself we are all here the jailer called for lights rushed in and fell trembling before paul and silas he then brought them out and said sirs what must I do to be saved they replied believe in the lord Jesus and you will be saved and you and your whole household then they spoke the word of the lord to him and to all the others in his house at that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds then immediately he and all his house were baptized let’s pray God as we look at this text would you speak to us would you give us wisdom wherever we are in our journey would you nudge us a little bit further on that journey thank you that you’re present here with us uh men so as I said

in this series on the book of acts coming swiftly towards a conclusion as we get to that time of year where we move into advent and we move uh into this christmas type season what we said back way at the beginning when we spent some time looking at luke this biography of Jesus life before we looked at acts was really these could be two parts of the same series of the same book there’s luke part one and luke part two and and luke is really what Jesus did and acts the second book is is what his followers did and in amongst these books there are these two big surprises the one surprise is that Jesus died nobody really expected that all of the the sort of the history all of the jewish promises prophets had said no no Jesus is going to come and or a messiah is going to come and he’s going to do something to rescue israel as we move into this season called advent we’ll get to go back and look at what some of those prophets said and

what they had promised this season where we build up to christmas which for some of you means switching from this obnoxiously quickly to this um there are some of you that are breaking all sorts of social conventions with your christmas decoration december 1st people uh is the time that’s allowed my kids are trying to watch christmas movies already I’m like nope you can’t dilute christmas you have to keep it in december that’s that’s how it works but this season is not just about this facade not just about the lightings this advent season is this this process of actually preparing ourselves realizing that this whole jewish nation waited for years for a messiah figure to turn up just as those of us that would call ourselves followers of Jesus today wait for his return and yet for them it didn’t look as they expected it to look the fact that Jesus died was a huge surprise to this early community of his followers the second big surprise

was this people like you and I were included now if you’re jewish you’re probably in the minority here generally gentiles were not expected to be included in this story and suddenly there’s these moments where they are now included and paul that we looked at last week we looked at his conversion this moment where he joins this Jesus story we’re told that paul will be this person that will begin to pull gentiles in to this big story the idea is the gut is interested in the whole world not just one small section of it and while it would be great to track all of paul’s journeys in a couple of weeks we don’t have time so we’re just going to spend the next couple of weeks looking at his visit to two particular towns or cities we’re going to look today at his visit to a town called philippi next week to his visit to a city called athens and so let’s go back to the start and track with what’s happening here with paul and the rest of his guys acts chapter

16 verse 16 once when we were going to the place of prayer so notice that we this is the first time or one of the first times luke is now actually involved in the story this author who’s heard sort of what’s going on he’s written down recorded details luke is now part of what paul is doing and luke silas paul a couple of others have been traveling from place to place we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future she earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune telling she followed paul and the rest of us shouting these men are servants of the most high guard who are telling you the way to be saved now to start with who sees a problem with this story particularly is there a problem with it I mean on the surface if you’re starting or or propagating or spreading a new religion and you walk into a town where there is already a great deal of religious activity and one of the major proponents

of that religion starts following you around saying these guys are right these you should listen to them on the surface is there anything wrong with that when you read it on the surface this seems like a huge advantage paul has walked into this town started sharing his message and someone who’s known to predict the future has said listen to this man he’s wise he has the truth on the surface we would say if we were going about starting a new faith or sharing a new faith people buying in that seems like a good thing and yet that isn’t how this story works so she kept this up for many days finally paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit in the name of Jesus christ I command you to come out of her at the moment the spirit left her this passage has a turn of I’m sick of you kids go to your room energy you know how like when when you are parenting finally get to that point I just need to be where you

aren’t and I need you to be where I’m not as well so just go to your room and stay there until I tell you this is the sort of language that we’re sort of tapping into here this idea of being annoyed grieved like a depleting grief at the end of your energy finally paul’s like I’m sick of this like just the implication is he could have done it days ago but he just he hadn’t been pushed far enough and finally he gets to this point of saying just just get out of here now the story is important for a couple of reasons luke this author has been really keen to show us the things that Jesus did his followers are now doing the things that happen to Jesus are now happening to his followers so in chapter 3 we saw this moment where peter is used by God to heal someone well Jesus healed many people there’s this moment where some of them are arrested and questioned and Jesus was arrested and questioned as chapter seven where stephen is

killed for his faith and Jesus was killed and in this incredible moment just like Jesus forgave his enemies in this moment of death stephen will do the same thing there’s multiple ways that we see that reflected and and this is another example of that Jesus had moments like this where he would say to a spirit just be quiet just I’m done this this same energy was present there on the surface there’s no obvious answer particularly as to why paul chooses to not take advantage of this person who’s basically saying listen to this guy but what I would suggest is maybe at the heart of this is this for paul there can be no association between this new way this Jesus way and the old ways if she walks around saying no listen to this guy and people do then by association there’s some connection between the two and what paul is very clear about is this Jesus story connects back to the old jewish story but it has no connection to any of these other

stories this is a new thing that is taking place God is doing something new and he’s doing it for all of humanity and so we see when our owners realized that their hope of making money was gone they seized paul and silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities they brought them before the magistrates and said these men are jews and are throwing our city into uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us romans to accept or practice now this excuse that they give is this really what’s bothering them absolutely not just like we saw with the jewish leaders in chapters three chapters four chapters five this passage again is primarily centered around power and how you can stay in power wealth and how you can keep hold of wealth we see what happens when established power is challenged by an alternative power and this narrative is there over and over again in acts the jewish leaders knew that a miracle

had taken place in chapter three and yet had to reject it because well what will happen if the people hear about this they chose to hide it simply out of ignorance same thing with these guys in philippi it’s no different because we’re now in the greek speaking world they know something significant is happening and yet just to keep hold of power same narrative what happens when power is challenged by an alternative power and that will happen throughout this Jesus movement the crowd joined in the attack against paul and silas and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with ruts after they’d been severely flogged they were thrown into prison and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully when he received these orders he put them in the inner cell and fasten their feet in the stock so this is the entrance of this character that will spend a little bit of time wrestling with he is told keep them secure so

what does that mean for him he takes them to the prison to the room with no windows he locks them in stocks as well to make sure there is absolutely no possibility of them escaping this is all about creating certainty that nothing can happen to continue the story the story has to end here and yet of course because it’s God’s story it doesn’t end there about midnight paul and silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them this is part of a maybe a narrative tradition across all of christianity over the world in nations where people are persecuted incredibly one of the wonderful aspects of christianity is in the midst of persecution followers of Jesus have been able to not only tolerate abuse but to rejoice in the midst of it the story is so real that in the midst of the worst they are able to sing and paul and silas muddle that for us and delightfully suddenly there was a violent earthquake such a

violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken at once all the prison doors flew open and everyone’s chains came loose if you are paul and silas at this moment what is your response is your response hey God provides it’s time to leave let’s exit everybody we’re all off together notice it’s not just paul and silas that are included in this all the prison doors flew open everybody’s chains came loose suddenly there’s this possibility of mass exodus everybody just leaves the guilty and the non-guilty alike and yet again the story takes this slightly surprising twist because they don’t leave for whatever reason the jailer woke up and when he saw the prison doors open he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped he would be responsible for them he was supposed to keep them secure this is his job they’ve been given to him to guard and there’s this moment where he

thinks they’ve gone and now this is a problem he’s gonna take the ultimate step of killing himself but paul shouted don’t harm yourself we are all here the story whether intentionally or unintentionally is really vague did they not escape because they didn’t have time was it just really that sort of staccato there’s this moment of earthquake there’s this moment where the jailer runs in and they’re so close together they didn’t have time or did he intentionally wait for the jailer we just don’t know but either way paul is super concerned that this guy not take a step of harming himself don’t harm yourself we are all here and then the jailer rushes to them and asks this immortal perhaps question a question that has been reiterated in sermons all over the place he then brought them out and asked sirs what must I do to be saved which is an unusual question right I mean for him to ask we may think of it as normal if we grew up in

church we may have used that language a lot but what does he mean by that in this moment what does this greek man who has simply encountered this new religion that everybody is so criticizing people are being arrested for what does he think he needs what’s his felt need it’s it’s just left on the surface with no particular answer he has seen something in this narrative that tells him he has some need deep in his life now now we would say those of us that have been in this church think for a while well he realized his need for salvation for the forgiveness of sins and and I could say maybe maybe he did maybe he will eventually later we’ll see we’re told paul will unpack this Jesus story for him but in this moment I actually think all we can say is that there’s some felt need in him that says this story I am living by right now is not working and I see here this potential for a different story he doesn’t know what it is he doesn’t know at this

point anything that Jesus ever taught he has no real information that we would call concrete about who Jesus is and yet he has seen enough in this small story to say there’s something here I want in on this story friends all over the world there are people that are living stories that have just been given to them at birth perhaps or they’ve adopted later that are saying I need a better story to live by and need something else this story it’s just not working in this moment this jailer whatever else he comes to know sees this moment where he sees another story on display and his question is simply phrase what must I do to be saved but not in a jewish not in a christian way just in a very earthly greek I need something from you paul and silas what is it that you have that I don’t have wherever his story goes whatever he comes to understand later right now we can’t say that he understands much more than this and paul’s answer is delightful

believe in the lord Jesus and you will be saved you and your household and again the question would be like what does that help him with again very vague on what he even knows about Jesus at this point and yet paul’s answer is simply believe in Jesus I would suggest as a big broad term what paul is basically saying is is something like this enter into this new story now I know for some of you and I’m just going to point this out right now there’ll be a definite wait hold on a second but we have to talk about death crucifixion payment of sins resurrection absolutely we do that is a hundred percent part of the story and yet at this point all I’m saying is that paul is simply saying to this man there’s loads for you to learn you need this story though come and get involved in this story that’s his beginning in this Jesus thing that is what he steps into to start with I wonder whether poor when he thinks back to stories like this I wonder if he was

thinking back to moments like this when he wrote this to this church in a town called colisee devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful and pray for us too that God may open a door for our message so that we may proclaim the mystery of christ for which I am in chains pray that I may proclaim it clearly as I should be wise in the way that you act towards outsiders make the most of every opportunity think through the narrative that paul has walked through I’m in jail suddenly there’s an earthquake I have a chance to escape a jail is about to kill himself and to poor that’s an opportunity to bring someone into this Jesus story for you and I it’s a jumbled series of events for you and I it’s a moment of irritation of of panic all these potential different things to paul so focused is he so committed to this story is he that what he sees in this moment is a man who needs this Jesus story and in this moment he takes advantage of it to

pull him in he sees a man on the brink of of ending it all a man on the brink of disaster a man who is broken and he in this moment sees this simply as an opportunity to bring him into the story make the most of every opportunity is what he writes to this church in kalasai and then the next step is that we’re told then immediately he and all his household were baptized he immediately immediately he and all his house were baptized which gives us an opportunity to talk about this thing that has been present throughout acts and yet we’ve seemingly had to just skip over in chapter two we read that a whole bunch of people joined the church and three thousand of them are baptized in chapter four a whole bunch of people joined the church and five thousand of them are baptized in chapter eight a man called philip meets an ethiopian eunuch that he leads into this relationship with Jesus and he says there’s water I want to be

baptized all the way through acts as this narrative of baptism they do the very thing that we’ll do next week will take some people and we’ll dunk them in water which if you’re completely outside of the church movement is just as fun and cool as it sounds in a religious ceremony we actually get to take people and dunk them into water this is this ritual this thing that churches have done for thousands of years but the question is and it’s not really unpacked here at all or in any passage which is why we get to unpack it together across the whole of axes why does baptism matter when the man has asked this question when he said what do I need to do to be saved the answer wasn’t baptism the answer was believe in Jesus and and you’ll be saved but then there’s this apparently automatic next step of baptism baptism doesn’t seem to do the thing itself and yet everybody in acts who jumps into this Jesus story follows it through with this

process of choosing to get baptized so a couple of passages couple of places that writers in the bible unpack baptism a little bit and then I’m gonna sort of maybe point out a couple of things that I think you will know if you’ve been around church for a while and maybe ask a question that is maybe a little new this is paul writing to a church in rome or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into christ Jesus were baptized into his death we were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father we too may have new life this picture of baptism is this picture of it represents the death and new life that you and I experience if we choose this Jesus story it represents the death and life experience that this man this philippian jailer will experience in this moment that he chooses this Jesus story incredibly it means this that baptism means death

before it means life that there is this distinctness to the story that represents all that Jesus has done this is peter writing to a group a church that he’s planted in first peter chapter three God waited patiently in the days of noah while the ark was being built in it only a few people ate and all were saved through the water so he makes this reference to this older story that we won’t get into this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience towards God it saves you by the resurrection of Jesus christ for both of these writers for paul and for peter there is this connection to this story of baptism something that you are doing here represents your entrance into this new and different story it isn’t the thing itself and yet it’s important as a representation of the story you might say that for a lot of people baptism is first a cleansing of an old story baptism wasn’t new

to christians so lots of people were baptizing at the time john the baptist of course was doing a baptism very similar to this and as john unpacks it for the people that are joining his baptism he says when john saw many of the pharisees and sadducees coming to his place of baptism he said to them you brewed a vipers who warned you to flee from the coming wrath produce fruit then in keeping with repentance baptism somewhere is this recognition that you’ve turned and made a change something old is being left behind something new is being entered into but it’s also not a cleansing just of an old story it’s also maybe an initiation in to a news story it’s this moment where these followers of Jesus said publicly I am entering into this new story I am making this declaration a private personal internal decision suddenly becomes this thing you are announcing to everyone and and let me say this if you can make a decision I can make a

decision we can be baptized into this Jesus thing or something else but you are definitely baptized into something whether you know it or not it might just be that you’re simply baptized into this world system of consuming and producing we we live in this world and in this age where really we’re told our value is based on how much we can produce and how much we can consumer and what we’re told over and over again whether we know it or not is we never get enough and you never consume enough there’s always more to get and always more to consume and that’s why you have the dream car that you always wanted and then you get that car and then another car is released or an upgrade happens or something new is available to you you get the house that you thought your family would always be happy and everything will be great and then after a while there’s a better house or a bigger house or another location

there’s always something else to attain to and that’s sort of the world’s thing that we could be baptized into and sometimes we hear this narrative maybe that well that’s all just capitalism but yeah people have been sitting in towers counting coins for a lot longer than capitalism has existed we as humans for a long time have gathered more and more stuff and said that’s the value of life somewhere baptism as an initiation into this new story is a is a declaration I’m not for the world’s thing I’m decidedly in favor of this thing so you might say that somewhere cleansing an initiation is what baptism is it’s death and it’s resurrection it’s tomb and it’s also womb it is something that represents this moment of new birth but what I would say for those of us that have been doing this church thing for a while that’s all in the past right I mean for most of us many of you chose to be baptized maybe as a kid maybe you didn’t choose it maybe

you walk through that journey because your parents put you through it maybe you did it as an adult but many of us would have taken that journey and if you haven’t the invitation for you is the same as for the philippian jailer enter into this new story this story that gives you something a bigger story to live in this story that is about death and resurrection and new life and all that Jesus did enter into that story and then be baptized but what about for those of us that would say well we did that thing is it is all it is just a past thing that we hope that we jump through I spent a couple of years on a phd program and I had this incredible austrian supervisor who after a while when I was about to have we were about to have our first child looked at me and he said alex I don’t question whether you have the uh intelligence to do a phd a question if you have the arrogance I was like what do you mean arrogance he said well all of us academics at

heart we’re arrogant everyone has to suffer so we can jump through this hoop that enables us to do what we want to do but all it is is a hoop it just gives us access to teach and and we write this one paper and then they tell us now we can teach on any subject related to it without any particular qualification to do it but he said it’s really just a hoop and is that all baptism is is it just a hoop for you with your story of I entered into this Jesus story I was baptized is it simply it was a thing I did because I was supposed to do and it’s in the past is that all baptism is cleansing from an old story is great initiation into a new story is great but does it mean something today does it have any practical sort of meeting of a felt need and to tap into that felt need what I’d like us to do is read another story together this story to me is when I think about pathos when I think about heartbreak in the bible this is one of those stories that I go to I’m going to read

most of it out loud and I’m just going to throw the last few verses up on the screen this is lamentations chapter 5 which I’m sure many of you have read recently for your daily devotional readings chapter 5 verse 1 remember lord what has happened to us look and see our disgrace our inheritance has been turned over to strangers our homes to foreigners we have become fatherless and mothers are widows we must buy the water we drink our word can be had only at a price those who pursue us are at our heels we are weary and find no rest we submitted to egypt and assyria to get enough bread our ancestors sinned and are no more we bear their punishment slaves rule over us there is no one to free us from their hands we get our bread at the risk of our lives because of the sword in the desert our skin is as hot as an oven feverish from hunger women have been violated in zion and virgins in the town of judah princes have

been hung up by their hands elders are shown no respect young men toil at the millstones boys stagger under loads of wood the elders are gone from the city gate the young men have stopped their music joy is gone from our hearts our dancing has turned to mourning the crown has fallen from our head woe to us for we have sinned because of this our hearts are faint because of these things our eyes grow dim from mount zion which lies desolate with jackals prowling over it you lord reign forever you’re thrown in jaws from generation to generation why do you forget us why do you forsake us so long restore us to yourself lord that we may return renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure you lord reign forever you’re thrown in jurors from generation to generation why do you always forget us why do you forsake us so long restore us to yourself lord that we

may return renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure this prayer is the last words of this writer of this book lamentations it’s the lament the poem of a city that is in captivity a city that is falling apart that is on the brink of destruction a city that has no hope of a preferred future and yet it articulates what I would suggest is almost a universal cry in different moments of grief whoever you are up there why do you forget us why do you always forget us every single one of us in our human condition I would suggest has moments of saying I feel forgotten I feel lost I feel like something is missing I feel like the God of the universe could pay attention and doesn’t when I was six or seven years old I was left in the parking lot of school by my mother who was supposed to pick me up and I remember the ticking of the clock the five minutes that became 10 minutes I’m talking past the

time where you’re like this is just normal to the point where the teacher is now offering to give you a ride home because she’s genuinely concerned about your safety and I remember thinking why isn’t she here and if she isn’t here is she thinking about me is she at least concerned has she got that sense of like I should be there and for some reason I’m not there right now and now I have kids of my own and I forget them regularly so I understand all of the pressures that come along with parenting and stuff it’s not it’s it’s not uncommon right I’m just like you know get over it you sat in a parking lot it’s fine but at the time at the time the the sense of of neglect and the sense of being forgotten was so palpable and I would suggest that for so many people that is an articulation why do you always forget us and yet we often feel forgotten but is God the one that forgets is it God that forgets I would suggest that we are the ones that are

forgetful we are the ones that forget we often feel forgotten but while we may feel forgotten we are the ones who forget just by nature of being human we are forgetful people so many of you now I can open up some cans of worms in amongst relationships by saying has there been an anniversary that was forgotten has there been that moment of rolling across and looking at the other one and saying ah it’s just such a great day isn’t it and and the other one looks back and says uh-huh it is a great day isn’t it it’s some particular day that I feel in this moment that I may have forgotten something special happened on there is that the way that partner can look at partner and create deep fear of did I forget something that shouldn’t have been forgotten by nature we forget stuff as human beings and to sort of help us understand that I’m going to show you a list of words charger baptism that’s an easy one vacation grilla oh that’s grill I wait

pizza shoe watermelon classic grade school era didn’t leave myself enough room to finish watermelon crystal tea let’s finish with something very english is there anyone who feels that there is a possibility that they can come and recite every single one of these words from memory I mean I just gave you eight words you use more than eight words regularly surely somebody can come and say oh I can remember all of those words and yet it’s more difficult than we would think right we forget very easily the average western human being can memorize nine digits and that’s it now there are some freaks of of nature in terms of their ability to recollect stuff this man recited pie to 83 000 numbers I mean that’s they took him 16 hours to do this so there are some people that are able to remember incredible bits of information but interestingly when they do these memory things in competition almost every

single one of them when asked to memorize words they take those words and what do they do with them they place them into story they place them into story because as we said at the beginning story sticks and information doesn’t story works as a memoric device so many of you could come up and recite that story from memory that story about a man who was in a bathtub and it’s just a made-up story I had so many people come up to me in the first service and say I need some closure to that story what happened to that guy I’m like I don’t know he’s not real like he went and lived happily ever after everything was all was well um he’s now married with three kids and living in I don’t know seattle um we tell ourselves stories in order to live said the writer joan didion and I think that is true and yet I also think I could extend it to something else I think we tell ourselves stories in order to remember as well and that moment that we forget

our stories something goes missing in england I don’t know about over here but in england and memorial uh on a remembrance day we wear these poppies of red and black and I read this story just yesterday about a man who was walking down the street and he saw a lady a young lady wearing the puppy on her right side and he just went very gently over to and said well traditionally we wear it over our hearts and the red represents blood and the black represents this and and we do it because of this and this and as I heard this story I thought oh my goodness soon the people that experienced that won’t be around to share that story anymore and some of our society of memory disappears we need stories in order to live we need stories in order to remember when the soviets overtook the ukraine back in the 70s they gathered all of the poets and songwriters and storytellers to say that they wanted to meet with them to talk

about the new ukraine and then they killed all of them because they knew by nature that a nation that has no storytellers has no history has no way of remembering we tell ourselves stories in order to live we tell ourselves stories in order to remember and your baptism the thing that you did while it was about cleansing while it was about initiation is also a story a story that involves this element of water that is so ingrained in christian tradition that tertullian this writer of the first century said you could call christianity a religion of water it’s in all of our texts it’s in all of our language just think about something like psalm 42 as the deer pants for streams of water so my soul pants for you my God my soul thirsts for God for the living God where can I go and meet with God in amongst the writing there is water water water and your story of baptism is this story that you need to remember that it still has life for you today the

writer eric peterson says this baptismal imagination this recollection this recalling this living back into a baptism moment a decision you made is an awareness that something happened to me back there it’s not just a thing that you jumped into and just did because it was a hoop to jump through it is a part of who you are now and who you are becoming if you jumped into this Jesus story that thing still has power still has memory in it I would suggest baptism is cleansing it is also initiation but it’s also a remembering of the story remembering that God said that you were never forgotten remembering in that moment of your deepest cry and ache of God has forgotten me no no he did not forget that that Jesus story that his death and resurrection is of a God that does remember that may be delayed that may wait longer than we want him to wait at times but still remembers still cares still knows when we re remember our baptism when we

remember back to that moment that decision that we jumped into we are remembering the God who does not forget and in that way it’s very similar to communion which we’ll walk through together in just a few moments this is first corinthians 11 for I received from the lord what I also passed unto you the lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread and when he had given thanks he broke it and said this is my body which is for you do this in remembrance of me in the same way after supper he took the cup saying this cup is the new covenant in my blood do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the lord’s death until he comes in that language of proclaim there at the bottom he’s like to herald to announce to say no I I am involved in this story this is the story that I choose to live by in all of my moments of wondering if I am

forgotten I choose to say that I am part of the story of the God who does not forget who does remember communion just like baptism is a remembering of the story and just how grounding and necessary it is for us to live in this philippian jailer we see this man who is essentially in a point of needing a different story whatever he means by what must I do to be saved it certainly means I need something else to live by and paul’s response is believe in Jesus enter into his story remember perhaps that you have not been forgotten we are the ones who forget God does not forget in a moment I’m going to invite you to come to a table wherever you are in a faith journey you can come into this story this story that in your moments of brokenness in your moments I feel forgotten is a reminder that you are not forgotten because this God doesn’t forget it’s us who forget psalm 25 says this remember lord your great mercy and love for they

are from old do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways according to your love remember me for you lord are good isn’t it interesting that the one thing it seems like God can forget is sins the one thing that he is able to say I don’t remember that is our own failures our brokenness that that Jesus story is just that good that that thing that we don’t want him to remember he is able to forget but for us he doesn’t forget you are remembered you are not forgotten it is us that forget and so we get to come and participate in sacraments and whether this week for you that means reliving some of what it was to be baptized maybe it’s the time that you drink a glass of water the time you climb in a hot tub or a warm bath or anything around water this remembrance and reminder of I have chosen to enter into this story I’ve chosen to enter into the story of the God who does not forget or it’s coming to this table and

doing the one thing that Jesus said to do alongside baptism which is to come and to remember him so I’m going to invite aaron to come and lead us in a song and together we’re going to say this congregational prayer as a way of preparing our hearts come holy spirit come awaken our senses to your movement remind us of christ’s sacrifice tear away our veils so we may encounter your real presence as we come to your table this table offers a different story to live by on the night that he was portrayed Jesus gathered with his earliest followers and taking bread he handed it to each of them and said this is my body broken for you in the same way he gathered the cup handed it to each of them and said this is my blood shed for the sins of the world as long as you gather together do this in remembrance of me so as long as we do this we remember the lord’s death until he comes God in this moment of your presence there are

probably some certainly some in this room who feel forgotten our story feels fractured it feels damaged yet you invite us into this new story a better story to live by you have not forgotten the Jesus story is at its essence a story of a God who has not forgotten this world that would ultimately give his own son to make it whole in our need for wholeness our need for forgiveness a deep cry that perhaps resonates with the jailer in philippi what must I do to be saved may we come to this table and find you present as aaron leads us in song feel free to come and grab the elements and take them back to your seats and we’ll take them together as we end the service come whenever you’re could it ready that my God would welcome me into this mystery say take this bread take this wine now the symbol may divide for any to receive