The following sermon was preached on Sunday May 14, 2023 at St George’s Transcona. You can learn more about St George’s and find links to their YouTube channel by clicking here. Photo credit: Alex Shute on Unsplash.


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable and pleasing in your sight O God, for you are our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Our readings for today jump around a bit in the timeline of the Christian story. The gospel reading takes place after Jesus has been risen from the dead, but before he leaves earth.

In this little window of time, Jesus has a really complicated job to perform. He knows he is leaving, and he knows that his disciples don’t want him to go.

But he is going to leave, and so he does everything he can to help them both understand that he is leaving, and that they will be OK when he does.

He tells the disciples that he is leaving, but someone else is coming, someone who will advocate for them. The disciples don’t know what he is talking about, but we have the benefit of being able to see the whole story, so we know that Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit. We will remember and celebrate the stories of Jesus’ ascension and the arrival of the Holy Spirit in upcoming Sunday liturgies.

When Jesus is explaining all of this to them he says, “I will not leave you orphaned…” (18)

Jesus is saying that this new community of people who follow him are a family, and he knows they need a parent.

It’s an unusual family, with an unusual parenting model. As Christians we believe in one God who is always one, but also three.

We believe it, but thank God we don’t have to understand exactly how it works!

So this newly forming family, this group of people who are following Jesus, they know this too – they know that Jesus and God are one but it makes sense that they have a particular focus on Jesus, a particular focus on the person in the Trinity that they can see, and touch and smell even. The person in the Trinity who is standing right in front of them.

And now this Jesus, who they recently thought left them when he was crucified is going to leave them again.

It’s a lot.

But Jesus tells them that they are a family and that even though he is leaving, they will never be orphans.

And Christians continue to be a family with God as their parent to this very day.

In the season after Easter we are still working our way through the book of Acts as our first reading and that book tells the story of how the earliest members of the family of God came to understand they were family and began to figure out how to live together.

It’s a book with a lot of inspiring stories of love and kindness in action.

It’s a book with a lot of stories – which I admit I find very comforting – of people disagreeing with each other and getting into fights as well.

One of the key characteristics of this new Christian family is that they are always inviting new people to join them. This also continues to be true to this day – although with the benefit of the long lens of history we can also see that sometimes our methods of invitation could use a bit of work.

In Acts, Paul has emerged as a leader in this developing community and he has begun to travel and tell as many people as he can about the good news of Jesus Christ.

In today’s reading Paul is in Thessalonica. He tells the people there, anyone who will listen, that God loves them and wants them to be part of God’s family. Paul will spend the rest of his life doing this, and the Christian family will grow bigger and bigger because of his work.

In the Book of Acts, when someone chose to become part of this Christian family, they were baptized. This was the ritual that was used to say, “Welcome to the family.”
In those early days, most of the people who were baptized were adults, but Acts also says entire families were baptized together which means that people of every age were being baptized and joining the Christian family at that time.

Today we will be welcoming Bexley Anne Kostiuk into our family. We will be welcoming her into the universal Christian family and also into our particular expression of that family at St George’s.

It’s a beautiful thing to do, but it’s also a funny thing to do because Bexley is already part of our family.

There are people here who have loved her and prayed for her since long before she was born.

And those people will continue to love her and pray for her.

God loved her as well before she was born. Baptism isn’t a magical moment where suddenly God and God’s people begin to love Bexley.

But it is a public way of expressing that love and formally saying that all of these things are true.

Bexley is loved. Bexley is family.

And we celebrate that by baptizing her. This rich and ancient tradition goes all the way back to the very first Christians. Since those early days in Acts so many things have changed in the world but not this – we are a family and we use water to welcome new people into the family.

Which is a good thing to do, and we are privileged to be able to do it.

*At this point in the service I called all the kids up and we talked about the baptism – which was fun, but not something I could easily transcribe for y’all.

In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. Amen.