Sunday, 28 May 2017

Year A 2017 The Ascension - Ruling in his absence

Sermon Ascension Sunday
Text Luke 24:44-53

Another week and another terrorist attack.
This latest one being a bomb exploded at a concert intended for young people.
The intention was to cause maximum harm to quite vulnerable children including an 8 year old there with her mother and sister to watch the concert.
Over 20 dead and many more injured.
The following day thousands gathered for a vigil to honour and show support for those affected.
We keep hearing from our leaders that we are winning the war against terror but that is not what it looks like.
Today we celebrate the Ascension – the day that Jesus ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God with all power and authority.
But, again, that's not what it looks like.
With God, sometimes things are not what they look like.
Jesus' birth did not look like the birth of a King.
Jesus ministry did not look like the promised Messiah as he ate and drank with sinners.
Jesus' death looked nothing like a victory.
And today, Jesus' ascension looks anything but a position of power and authority.
The Church today looks anything but a thriving body of Christ, but that is what it is.
It's just that God doesn't act the way the world portrays power and authority.
The world uses military might to show its power and authority, like North Korea that has to constantly parade its bombs and army down the street to keep reassuring its people.
The world uses its economic power to show its power and authority.
We too use physical things as signs of power and authority – our wealth, our careers, our possessions our investment portfolios.
But God chose differently.
God has chosen weakness to shame the powerful.
God has chosen foolishness to shame the wise.
God has chosen the things that are not to shame the things that are.
And as we begin to understand that framework we begin to understand that Jesus ascension fits in with that framework.
But how?
How is Jesus ruling?
He is ruling in a way the world does not understand.
Firstly by commanding us to respond with love and forgiveness rather than by fear or retaliation.
Jesus says “Let not your hearts be troubled – trust in God, trust also in me.
In a world that is gripped in fear over terrorism, crime, environmental issues and a whole host of other things,
But our response is not with fear as Jesus says in Luke 12: Have no fear little flock for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.
So Jesus power and authority is shown by his assurance that we have nothing to fear.
Even to the church he gives that assurance that even though our numbers are dwindling he assures us that not even the gates of hell shall prevail over the church.
But at this time Jesus power and authority are hidden behind the sin in the world.
Hidden, not absent.
And as we pray in the Lord's Prayer, your kingdom come, that is when Christ's power and authority will be revealed.
But it's not a power and authority only in the future but it is now, hidden, as St Paul says to the Colossians:
Set your minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God – for your life is now hidden in Christ, but when Christ appears then you also will appear with him in glory.
We are not to be downhearted when we see things in the world but remember that Jesus has ascended and is ruling and that he has already won the victory.
And we wait, as Jesus told his disciples – wait until you have been clothed with power from on high.
It’s hard waiting when it seems like nothing is happening.
And as Christians it can be particularly hard as we look around the world and don’t see anything to indicate that God is in control.
But we are reminded that God is in control and we are to have faith.
In the book of Revelation it says:
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world will mourn for him.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “
I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
So while it may be hard waiting we know that when that day arrives that it will be so glorious.
So until then we are to pray for those who do not yet know Jesus as their Lord so that when he does return they will not mourn his coming but along with us shout and rejoice.

So until that day when our ascended Lord returns may the peace of God that surpasses our understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Confirmation Service 28th May 2017

Sermon – Confirmation Sunday
Text – Luther’s Small Catechism

I was watching the news a couple weeks ago where an item came up that in one way made me laugh but in another way made me sad.
It spoke about a cyclist Luka Pibernik from Slovenia riding in the Giro D’Italia cycling race who threw his arms up in victory when he crossed the finishing line not realising he still had a lap to go in the race.
He ended up finishing the race in 148th position
He celebrated victory too early.
As Christians we don’t have that worry about celebrating our victory too early because we aren’t the ones competing.
As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ has won the victory for us already and we are simply waiting to receive the prize.
We believe that Jesus has ascended to heaven where he sits at the right hand of God ruling the world waiting for us to come and join him in heaven.
The time of waiting however can be difficult at times.
Christians, in general, have been waiting 2000 years for Jesus to return and bring about the victory when he promised to return and bring about the judgment of all people.
As Christians the wait can cause us to become complacent and distracted like the cyclist thinking he’d won.
Erica, Joe and Daniel – you are young and have a whole life of experiences ahead of you.
And sometimes things in life can distract us from what our Christian faith is about.
As you grow up – go to University, get a job, perhaps get married and start a family – sometimes your Christian faith can slip away.
Especially if your go to University and begin in the workplace, there may be people that make you question your Christian faith.
In your confirmation lessons you learnt, hopefully, about how the Christian faith applies to your everyday life so when you get distracted by things that you can look back to what is really important and how the Christian faith is an important part of your life.
You learnt about the 10 Commandments.
The 10 Commandments are not supposed to be ways that we limit your fun in life.
“You can’t do this – you can’t do that – you must do this – you must do that”.
That’s not what God intended by them.
The 10 Commandments were given to show us how we can enjoy life and get the most out of life.
The 10 Commandments are about how to truly value life.
They teach you about relationships – with God and one another.
They help you to value what is really important in life.
You’re going to be challenged and wonder what the right thing to do is.
That’s when you go back to the commandments and ask – Am I loving God – am I loving my neighbour.
You learnt about the Apostles’ Creed – which is also about relationships.
It taught you that you were specially created by God the Father – the creator of heaven and earth.
You learnt about God’s love for you that even though we mess our lives up that God still loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son into the world to die for us.
You learnt that as you journey through life with all its challenges and uncertainties, that you are not alone – God is with you with the gift of his Holy Spirit.
So as you go through life wondering at times how to get through things – you can remember – God is with me because of your Baptism.
You learnt about Baptism where you began your new life as a child of God.
You learnt that God loved you and promised to be with you till the end of time.
You learnt that whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.
What an amazing promise God has made to you in a world that only values you by your possessions – that values you by your academic achievements – that values you by your employment.
A world that is very quick to devalue you when you no longer are important.
In Baptism you learn that God loves you as you are without needing to achieve or prove anything.
He loves you simply because you are his beloved child.
You learnt about Holy Communion where you are invited to come and receive the most special gift anyone can give you – the gift of life.
You don’t need to prove anything to be invited – God invites you as you are.
You don’t need to be on the A list or be one of the popular kids.
God invites you as you are.
And he gives you the gift of life.
Eternal life – as you hear the invitation – take and eat – take and drink – this is my body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
So when you go through life and you feel like you are alone or nobody cares or understands here you are reminded that you’re never alone and that God cares and understands you and invites you to his very own supper to be with you.
You then learnt a very special prayer.
A prayer we call The Lord’s Prayer.
When Jesus disciples asked him to teach them to pray he actually gave them a prayer to pray.
And that’s because we tend to find it difficult to pray.
We don’t know what to pray.
We don’t know when to pray.
We don’t know how to pray.
So Jesus gives us a prayer we can pray at any time and it covers everything thing we need.
The more people I speak to the more I find people who find it difficult to pray.
But the same people will tell me how important prayer is.
So Jesus gives us a prayer to help us.
God wants you to speak to him.
God wants to speak to you.
One of the worst things you can do is to bottle things up.
In prayer you can tell God all your problems.
You can share with God your most intimate thoughts and feelings.
And God won’t judge you.
He understands you and what you’re going through and wants to listen to you.
And finally you learnt about a very precious gift God has given us.
The forgiveness of sins.
This was not about the forgiveness of sins we have but how we can use forgiveness towards others.
This is so important and so needed today.
Knowing that God has forgiven you gives you the strength to forgive others.
When someone hurts you rather than hurting them back God encourages you to forgive them.
When you are in a relationship it is forgiveness that allows your relationship to heal and grow.
Forgiveness is the sign by which Christians are known in the world.
Non-Christians can forgive too but Christians are taught to be the ones who offer forgiveness even if the other person isn’t sorry.
Even if the same person has hurt us time and again, forgiveness allows us to not let our anger take over and hurt them back.
Erica, Joe and Daniel, today is Thanksgiving Sunday and today the church is so thankful for your faith.
People your age are sadly leaving the church.
The church needs you, but I’m also going to say – you need the church.
The church is your family.
The world will offer you plenty but at the end of the day it doesn’t have your interests at heart.
The church is different.
The church is where God’s family comes together to support each other.
The church is where you will find purpose and meaning and love and acceptance.
The church will remind you that you are special without needing to prove anything.
For around an hour a week you can come and hear a different message to the one you hear in the world.
You’ll hear a message that it’s okay to be who you are because that’s how God made you.
You’ll hear a message that God loves you even if you don’t love yourself.
You’ll hear a message that God has forgiven you even if you cannot forgive yourself.
You’ll hear a message that it’s okay to come 148th in a race because Jesus has already won the only race that matters – the race to heaven where he is waiting to give you the crown of victory.
Erica, Joe and Daniel, you are about to confirm your faith publicly in the presence of your family and your church family.
This is not a small thing you are doing as you claim again for yourselves everything God has to give you.
God holds nothing back.
Whatever he has to give you he has already given you in your baptism and in the receiving of Christ’s body and blood.
My prayer is that you use what God has given you as you go through life so you know that you’re not alone.
That God is with you.
That the church is with you.
And may you go and continue to grow in your faith as you live as children of God for which we are truly thankful on this Day of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Year A 2017 6th Sunday after Easter - The Unknown God made known.

Sermon 6th Sunday after Easter
Text: 1 Peter 3:13-22 – The Unknown God made known.

When people find out that I am a Pastor I come across so many people who tell me that they aren’t Christian but they are spiritual people.
Sometimes they even say they don’t believe in God but are spiritual.
I think by spiritual they probably mean similar to what Paul encountered today when he visited Athens and found the people there very religious people.
People don’t like the term religious or religion much these days.
In fact a lot of Christians don’t like the term either being applied to themselves.
It has a bit of negative feel about it when someone uses the term.
But what does it mean to be spiritual or religious as Paul referred to the Athenians?
I think it means that they understand that there is something bigger than themselves that exists but they don’t really know what it is.
Paul called it “the Unknown God”.
They are searching but have not yet discovered the personal relationship that God invites them to.
They know there is something there but not quite sure what.
So many people are on a search for the truth.
So many people are on a search for meaning in life.
There are various ways that people undertake that search.
People use their careers as a way of finding meaning and purpose in life.
But the problem with that is that careers can actually suck the life blood out of us rather than give us meaning.
We have seen those who have been burnt out in their careers.
Those who have neglected family in order to build up their career so they can support their family better.
Or sometimes we have seen those who have given their life and soul to their career only to be called in and sadly advised that they are being offered a retrenchment because the business is going in a different direction.
Some find their search for meaning in their sport – as a participant or spectator.
As a participant sport can be a very short lived search.
An injury or illness can sideline you.
In team sport there is always someone who is vying for your position.
As a supporter of sport there can be great highs when your team is winning but even lower lows when your team loses.
Sport is probably one of the biggest areas that is challenging the church in people’s search for spirituality.
The MCG is often referred to as the Spiritual Home for football clubs.
Sport is played on most sacred days.
Sundays is not even given a second thought.
Football on Good Friday went off without much negative feedback.
Sport is being used to create the new voice of ethics taking on issues like sexism, racism, drugs and same-sex marriage.
Many refer to their sport as their religion.
When we hear things like that it can be very disheartening.
But Paul didn’t find it disheartening at all but found an opportunity to speak to them about what they were searching for.
But what is interesting is that Paul doesn’t begin by firstly rejecting what they have found as their spiritual direction.
In fact he upholds them and praises them:

Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.
He doesn’t say – you foolish people for believing in false Gods.
There is no doubt that the church has a challenge today.
But we need to be careful that we don’t demonise and make enemies of those who are spiritual but not yet in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
At the end of the day the journey of their Spiritual quest will let them down.
When Peter and the disciples were causing disruption the people wanted them put to death.
But Gamaliel gave very good advice that is still relevant today:
“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:34-39)
This is our strategy also.
To remain strong in our faith in God and be there in time of need.
That was the advice Peter gave in our bible reading: He said:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. (1 Peter 3:14-16).
Sometimes it is hard.
The criticism against Christians can get very personal and hurt and we are tempted to retaliate.
But Jesus promises that we are not alone.
He says: I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
When you look at what Paul had to go through because of his faith it didn’t turn him away from God but made his faith stronger:
Put in prison, whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
So Paul didn’t see opposition as something to fight against or be concerned about.
Jesus also recognised the opposition we would receive and reminds us “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” John 15:18.
We don’t want to see an “us and them” situation but rather what Paul saw when he went to Athens and found a point of entry to bring the Gospel message.
We have points of entry into people’s lives and it is usually when there is a time of suffering or grief.
We can be there to share the hope we have with gentleness and patience that Peter talks about.
We don’t know when that opportunity may arise so Peter says – always be prepared.
God has placed each of us in various places to be his message of hope and he will use us when the time is right.
And we don’t have to worry about what we’ll say or what we’ll do because God will send his helper, the Holy Spirit to be with us.
And if you feel inadequate because you don’t know how to witness then don’t despair but be prepared to simply share the hope you have.
And if you feel as if you’ve let God down because you’ve never witnessed to anyone, again don’t despair because that’s up to God and we are simply to always be ready to do so.
Paul did not judge the people of Athens because of their idol worship and their non-Christian ways of living.
Rather, he uses their culture that acknowledged their worthiness as children of God.
Paul begins to tell them about this unknown God that they are already worshiping.
Paul does not condemn the Athenians for who they are; nor does he begin with what separates them, but with what they have in common.
Paul knew God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
He knew God as the One who keeps promises.
He knew God as a God of a second chance, and a God that saves, a God that can convert.
He knew God as a God of love even loving his enemies.
A God who came to serve us.
Our God, who has given everyone life and being, and is interested in every aspect of your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem.
So who do you know God as?
We cannot tell of something if we do not know for ourselves, first-hand.
We cannot share a God we do not know for ourselves with others.
We are witnesses for the God we know.
We are sent to tell people about the love God has shown us in Jesus Christ.
Our God should no longer be unknown.
Our God is too good and too generous to remain unknown.
God is known by loving-kindness to us, shown in the One who lived and died and rose again, so that we too might live with God.

We are all called to be witnesses to the God we know and love and make the unknown God known to the world.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Year A 2017 5th Sunday after Jesus - Jesus is the Way

Sermon 14th May 2017
Text: John 14:1-10 – Jesus is the Way

There’s a knock at the door.
You open the door and there is a nicely groomed couple perhaps with a young child with them.
They greet you with a smile and you suspect what it’s about.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are there to share with you about their faith.
I admire their commitment and courage to knock on a door to speak about their faith.
One of the major differences that separates us from Jehovah’s Witness is their translation of John chapter one verse one which reads:
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
Their translation is slightly different.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was a God.
You mightn’t think there is much difference but one little word that can make a world of difference and can take away so much meaning.
Their understanding is that Jesus was a god but not equal with God the Father.
One little word that makes a world of difference.
Earlier in our service we witnessed Mackenzey being baptised.
God made a promise – whoever believes and is baptised WILL be saved.
So much power in that one word – WILL be saved.
Not might be saved or has a good chance at being saved.
Will be saved.
In our bible reading today we also saw some quite definite promises made by Jesus.
He says that in his Father’s house there are many rooms and that he is preparing a room for us and that he WILL return and take us to be where he is.
I find that so comforting knowing that Jesus speaks in absolutes and he can do so because he is God.
There are never any doubts and never any confusion when Jesus speaks.
So when Jesus says, I am the way, the truth and the life – no one comes to the Father except through me – it can sound rather exclusive and limiting.
It is a passage often used to reject other religions.
But that was not the reason Jesus said those words.
Jesus is providing us with absolute assurance that if we want to be sure about going to heaven then he is the only way to have that assurance.
And that’s because he IS God – not a god.
We live with so much uncertainty in our lives and in most cases we can handle that.
But the one area that we do not want uncertainty is regarding what happens when we die.
I have seen the grief and despair that death causes so many times and the only comfort that can be given is knowing that the person who has died was a Christian and that they are now in heaven.
And the only way that I can bring comfort is by speaking in absolute confidence.
And the only way that I can have absolute confidence is because Jesus is God and has made that promise to us.
Eternal life is not something that we want to second guess with terms like – he should be in heaven because he was a good person.
Or I really hope that he is in heaven.
Those sorts of words don’t bring comfort.
It’s like doing an exam at school and feeling you went well but not knowing how you went or if indeed you actually passes until it’s been marked by an examiner.
Or sitting your VCE and waiting for the ENTER score to see if you get into your preferred University course.
We don’t want that same uncertainty when it comes to our appearance before God on Judgement Day.
We want to know NOW that it’s guaranteed.
And so Jesus speaks in absolutes when it comes to our salvation.
Whoever believes and is Baptised WILL be saved.
Whoever believes in Jesus Christ will not perish.
This IS my body – this IS my blood.
When Jesus spoke these words he was just about to be arrested.
His disciples would see some very worrying things and wonder whether they had made the right decision to follow Jesus.
So he says – don’t let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God and trust in me.
Don’t trust what your eyes see – trust what I have said to you.
Trust what I have promised.
Jesus won’t magically take away the terrible things happening in our lives and in the world
But he will bring comfort by assuring us that our home in heaven is absolutely guaranteed and in heaven there will be no more suffering, crying or death.
That’s what Jesus has prepared for us and he will personally return and bring us home.
In this day and age home ownership is such a discouraging topic especially for our younger people who firmly believe they will never be in a position to own their own home;
How amazing that Jesus himself has built our heavenly eternal home and will personally escort us there when our time comes.
The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about.
They were expecting from Jesus a military style battle against the enemy.
But what Jesus was doing was giving them a farewell speech.
Jesus knew that there was not going to be a battle.
He was going to succumb to the violent arrest – an unfair trial – and a death he didn’t deserve.
So his disciples were going to see some horrific things.
So as his farewell speech he says to the – don’t let your hearts be troubled.
In life we will see some horrific things at times.
Sickness, death, financial crisis, wars, natural disasters, relationship breakdowns.
These can really trouble our hearts wondering how we are going to get through them.
So Jesus says to us also – don’t let your hearts be troubled.
Trust God – trust Jesus.
And we can trust Jesus because he is God – not a god.
Jesus is God.
Because no matter how bad things get – and even if the worse thing happens – Jesus has prepared a new home in heaven for us.
That new home will be nothing like we have ever experienced or can ever experience in this life.
It will be a home where God himself will be with us and be our God. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Year A 2017 4th Sunday after Easter - Jesus our Gate

Sermon 7th May 2017
Text: John 10:1-10 – Jesus our Gate.

I’m always intrigued about the image used for our relationship with God that focuses on sheep and shepherd.
Whereas there are some endearing pictures of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying the lost sheep home on his shoulders the reality is that sheep are not that glamorous as an image.
Sheep are considered as dumb animals.
Calling someone a “sheep” is often said with a negative term.
When a person goes off without using common sense we say they are acting like sheep.
If you’ve ever seen a sheep shearer in action they seem to grab the sheep without much regard for their comfort and cut off all their wool and then push them down the ramp and grab the next one.
It’s not a very glamourous image in reflecting our relationship with God.
But is that the image of a sheep that the bible is wanting to paint for our relationship with God as sheep and shepherd.
Is that the type of relationship that God is pointing out by using the image of sheep and shepherd.
It’s an image in both the Old and New Testament.
We especially hear that in our Psalm today – the Lord is my Shepherd.
But this is not the aspect that Jesus wants to highlight when he speaks of our relationship as sheep and shepherd.
What Jesus speaks about is the vulnerability of sheep to predators.
David spoke of that vulnerability when he spoke of his confidence in taking on Goliath.
He said he used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth
And the main predator when it comes to God’s children – his sheep – the sole predator – is Satan, or the Devil.
Jesus speaks of Satan’s sole purpose of destroying our relationship with God when he refers to him as:
A thief and a bandit.
A stranger.
The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
In other places Jesus speaks in similar ways about Satan:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
So, again, you can see that connection between King David fighting lions to protect his sheep and Satan as the roaring lion looking to devour us with Jesus as our Good Shepherd.
Likewise he spoke of the very personal attack against his disciples: 
Simon, Simon! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; (Luke 22:31,32).
Isn’t that such a comforting image that Jesus is praying for us!
We speak about how powerful prayer is – imagine that Jesus Christ himself is praying for us!
So we need to understand that Satan’s attacks on us become very personal as he attempts to attack our faith in God..
So what are Satan’s tactics in destroying our faith which we learn from our bible reading?
First of all, Jesus jumps straight in and says:
Anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.
Jesus would be thinking back to the very first entry by Satan when he climbed into God’s creation as a thief and bandit when he entered into the Garden of Eden.
There Satan entered by climbing over with temptation and stole Adam and Eve away from the sheepfold of God’s perfect creation.
He came to steal, kill and destroy Adam and Eve and achieved what he came to do.
Satan came in and stole them away with a voice of temptation creating doubt in their minds by asking them – did God really say you couldn’t eat from that tree?
Today Satan continues to sneak into our lives with the voice of temptation asking us – did God really say?
Did God really say you can’t do that?
Did God really say you couldn’t say that?
Did God really say you couldn’t look at that?
The voice of Satan’s temptation is so strong today especially as there is growing ignorance of what God says as so many bibles remain unopened.
So many families today don’t even have a bible in their home.
There are so many voices telling us how we should live our lives that we don’t know what God’s voice sounds like.
How can we know if God really did say something when we don’t know what God has said?
So Jesus says: God’s sheep follow him because they know his voice.
But how well do we know God’s voice today?
Satan’s way into our lives today is made even easier.
Satan doesn’t have to ask – did God really say – because so many don’t even know what he has said.
So in Jesus image today as a Shepherd to battle against Satan - he says – I am the Gate for the sheep.
Tradition has it that Shepherds in Jesus’ time would lie down across the entry to the sheep pen so the predator would have to climb over the shepherd to get to the sheep.
The shepherd would then wake up and protect his sheep.
So Jesus says that he is our Gate to protect us from Satan’s attacks.
And so Satan must go through Jesus in order to attack us.
And Jesus has placed himself in Satan’s path.
Firstly with our Baptism where the waters of Baptism protect us from Satan’s attack on our guilt.
Peter talks about that protection in his First Letter when he says:
Baptism now saves you … as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Look at what sin did to Adam and Eve’s conscience as their guilt didn’t let them be able to be in the presence of God.
“We hid because we were ashamed”.
When Satan attacks us by using our sin to destroy our relationship with God, our Baptism reminds and reassures us that we are God’s children whom he loves.
When Satan attacks our conscience with the same doubt he used on Adam and Eve having us ask whether or not we are loved by God and saved from our sin, our Baptism reminds us of the very words of God – this is my child whom I love.
Legend has it that Luther when he was struggling with his conscience threw an inkwell at Satan yelling – “I am Baptised’.
Not – I am a good person – not I’ve done more good than bad - but claiming God’s righteousness and not his own.
The other way that Jesus protects us is by placing his very body and blood in Satan’s path as he places in our hands those very items – his body and blood – broken and shed for us.
Satan has no comeback against Jesus’ body and blood.
They are the price of our forgiveness and they are placed in our very hands.
Just as the blood of the lamb was splashed against the altar in the Old Testament sacrifices to forgive God’s people so too the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is splashed against God’s altar as St Paul reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the living God.
We need to remember that Satan is cunning and will use any tactic he can to attack our faith – as Jesus said:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
But Jesus protects our faith and even more he says:
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Maybe we don’t feel at times that special in our relationship with God.
We may feel unworthy to approach God  because of our poor choices and falling to temptation.
But we are not on our own.
Jesus is praying for us.
Jesus says he is the gate through whom we are assured access to God.
He guarantees that whoever enters through me will be saved.
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life says Jesus.
We can be sure that despite our sin, failures and shortcomings, we are always welcomed into God’s presence because through baptism and by Jesus’ body and blood, we have entered through Jesus, the gate into our heavenly pasture.