Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Our Rightful Home

Pentecost 19, Proper 25, October 23, 2011, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Rev. Paul Moore
There once was a king who lived in a kingdom far, far away and a long time ago.  He lived with his queen in his castle, but he was very sad.  He had no children, and that made life lonely.  But soon enough the queen shared the happy news that they were going to have a child.  A beautiful baby girl was born to them, and they were not sad any longer.

They noticed that the baby had just the same shape of nose as her father, and everyone thought it was cute!  They decided to throw a big party and invite all the important people in the kingdom.  The day was set, invitations went out, and people began to arrive for the big day.  The party started, and all was going very, very well.  The whole kingdom was happy with the new little princess.  The food was yummy, the decorations were fun, and everybody was having a good time.

But, just at the height of the party a man in a dark hood stole into the castle.  He made his way to the crib with the baby princes, and before anyone could stop him he scooped up the baby and disappeared into the crowd.  Police were called, they searched and searched, but could not find the hooded man or the baby princess.  Heartbroken, the king and queen called off the rest of the party and sent everyone home.  And they cried and cried that night for their baby girl.

The years passed, and the king and queen grew older.  A son was born to them, and everyone remembered the daughter who had disappeared so many years before. They remembered her with love and longing.  The son grew up to be brave and strong and handsome, everything a kingdom would want in their next king.  And he had his father's nose, and people said he would have his father's wisdom and kind ways.

One day the young man was out traveling through a neighboring kingdom.  He came across a young woman working in a field.  Her clothes were dirty and torn, her hair was uncombed.  But what caught her attention was her nose.  It looked just like his.  Quietly he approached her.  She was a little afraid to speak with a prince, but he quieted her fears, and pointed out that they had noses that looked alike.  That made her laugh.  The prince asked where she was from.  She said she had been sold as a slave when she was a small girl, and had worked for her master all her life.

The young man went home and told his aging father.  The father immediately gathered soldiers, they went to the house where the young woman lived, there they found an old man, the one who had bought the girl.  The king said, "You see your slave girl's nose?  You see mine?  You see my son's?  You have a princess for a slave!"

But the man said, "In this kingdom slavery is allowed.  I paid a high price for her.  You cannot just take her away from me."

So the prince, the king's son, pulled out his money bag and said, "What do you want for her?"

“She is very expensive. She is a good worker, she will cost you all that you have in your money bag.”  Gladly the son emptied the money bag on the table, and bought his sister back into freedom.

Oh, the rejoicing when the princess came back to the castle.  They combed her hair, and gave her beautiful clothes to wear once again, and the whole kingdom came to welcome her home.

Well you might wonder why I told you this story.  This morning a beautiful young lady is going to be baptized.  Baptism is like bringing the princess home.  We are all born children of God, the great and wise King of the Universe.  But sin stole the human race away, and we lost contact with who we really are.  We became slaves to sin, who was not our real master at all.  So Jesus, God's son, came to earth, and found us, He paid a very high price to buy us back again, He died on the cross and rose again, just for us.

And now, we bring a princess back to the castle.  We say, "Though we were all once slaves to sin, now, by the grace of God, we can return to our rightful home and live with our father, our brothers and sisters, and all the people of God!"

And just as the princess in my story had to get new clothes and have her hair combed, so we, in this family, share with those newly returned, what it means to live in God's family.  We teach them how to say thank you for rescuing us and bringing us home by the things we think, say and do, by gathering with one another on Sundays, and by sharing what we have to help rescue and bring back other children of God who have not yet been brought back to the castle.

This morning we baptize a young lady of 10 years of age.  She will become your sister in Christ, she is another princess in this castle of our King and Father.  Remember her in your prayers.  As you see her encourage her, walk with her, show her how to express her gratitude, and let her know how special she is.

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