pharaoh's army

Sometimes sermons do not make it to a full manuscript but are, instead, improvised from a chordal progression of notes. In this case, the sermon plot for young William Bruce's baptismal Sunday worked its way through five moves. Here are the notes I had in front of me as I preached from the font on the texts for the day: Exodus 14:19-31 & Psalm 114 ...

1. Paradigm
The story of the Exodus from Egypt is the paradigmatic event of the Bible. It is the deep pattern of God’s activity in the world. Every family has a root story that it retells whenever it gathers and that it passes on from generation to generation. This is now your root story, William. God hears and answers the cry of the enslaved. God saves, delivers, frees, guides, heals ...

2. The army
Pharaoh’s army is powerful, overwhelming. Beyond our capacity to overcome. These are terrible forces that cause nightmares in even the very young, but also in the very old. Forces that enslave can be outside, they can be inside. William, we do not know what form they will take in your life. We only know they will confront you.

3. Drowning
The people escape on dry land ... except, wait. The paradigm, the story, has taken a twist. It is not just Pharaoh’s Army that drowns. At the font we drown. Death comes inevitably. But here William, just six months after your birth, you have already died. Jesus leads us through the Red Sea of death to life on the far bank. You do not need to fear death. You are already living on the other side of death. You have been baptised into the resurrection, into life that does not need to earn or prove anything ... life freed to live for God. We often forget this. We live in a world that lives a different story. It is the reason we fill this font with water every Sunday morning. It reminds us that we have already drowned.

4. For all
And not just life on the other side of death for you or for us ... but for all. Even for Pharaoh’s army. In Jesus we discover that the God who liberates the oppressed and judges the oppressor has mercy on all. It is what we call amazing grace. We do not call it "common sense grace" or "status quo grace." It is grace beyond our comprehension and expectation. It is the reason we do not give hope for anyone at anytime ... because God has not given up on anyone, ever. Even Pharaoh's army.

5. For you
Including you, William. Never forget that this grace, this God is for you. Today you have been adopted into this family, a family whose story goes like this: we were once slaves but now we are free, we were once lost but now we are found, we were once orphans but now we are home. Welcome home, William.

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