Saturday, April 21, 2012

B, Easter 3 – 1 John 3:1-3,7 “One Hundred Years”

One hundred years ago Robert Scott set out for the South Pole and arrived there on the 17th of January 1912. Just over two months later he and his team of four perished trying to return from their feat. One member of his party's last words were recorded leaving the tent as, "I am just going outside and may be some time" deliberately doing so to die. The last member dying on the 29th of March!
One hundred years ago on March the 1st Albert Berry nervously jumped from an aircraft to see if his invention would actually work. It did! He was the first person to parachute from a plane. Later in the year in October the first bomb was dropped from a plane. I'm guessing it made a bigger bang than Albert's first parachute jump. The women are not left out either. On April the 16th Harriet Quimby was the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
However, just two days earlier, in the opposite direction the Titanic ploughed along the side of an Iceberg and in the early hours the next morning it sunk into the Atlantic Ocean. Of the two thousand two hundred and twenty-three souls on board only seven hundred and nine survive. But little do we hear that in May of 1912 the SS Imperator slid down the slipway into the sea at Hamburg. It was the largest ship built in its day.
Back in Australia Andrew Fisher was Australia's Prime Minister under Governor-General Thomas Denman, and King George the fifth. And here in the West John Scaddan was the Premier and Sir Gerald Strickland, the Governor.
Off the coast of WA a tragedy on the water yet again but this time a cyclone sinks a ship; the SS Koombana, killing around 150 people. And Australia has its first aircraft accident between Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill in Sydney. But back on dry ground Francis Birtles becomes the first person to cross the Nullarbor Plain in a car on the 13th of April 1912.
On the 10th of October the Maternity Allowance Act 1912 is passed, granting a "Baby Bonus" of five pounds to the mother of every child born in Australia. Now this must have come as quite disturbing news to the Kowald clan as born on the 19th of March, Ruby Kowald was the 13th child to Frederick Wilhelm Kowald and second last to him and his second wife Johanne Susanna Kowald (nee Zadow). Now I believe five pounds was quite a sum in 1912, perhaps this is why Frederick and Johanne fronted up again to have child number fourteen, Ella.
However, searching through public records on 1912 there is no mention of Ruby Kowald. In fact she shares her birth year with two WW2 fighter aces, one a German ace, shares her birthday of the 19th of March. His name was Adolf Galland who went on to become a general and friend of many whom he would have fought against over the English Channel. Ruby also shares her birth year with Gregory "Pappy" Boyington a US Marine ace who served in the Pacific and won the Purple Heart. Perhaps Ruby might have been the first female fighter ace if she had taken to the air with her 1912 colleagues.
But seriously, Ruby as most of us, will not be remembered by the annuals of popular human achievement, or tragedy, or by some other extraordinary event. Nevertheless, there is an extraordinary event that occurred in 1912, one which has not been recorded in popular history, but which exceeds in greatness over all other feats recorded.
This occurred yesterday one hundred years ago and like the Titanic it involved a drowning death in water. But it also includes a resurrection from the dead, and a rebirth more memorable than Ruby's earthly birthday on the 19th of March. One hundred years ago yesterday God took Ruby and made her his own, his child.
Ruby was drowned in the waters of baptism where she was united with Jesus Christ in his death on the cross. But for the last one hundred years God has been also daily raise her to life, calling her to daily drown the sinful human nature through repentance. One hundred years ago our Lord then sent the Holy Spirit into her heart to move and will her so she might have enduring peace and hope. And I pray as your pastor but also as a young brother in Christ that you Ruby have allowed Jesus to do his justifying work in you to the glory of God the Father.
But it's not just for Ruby! It's for all of us who have been baptised into him. We all yearly celebrate a birthday greater than our earthly birthday. All who are baptised are called to believe they are now yearly celebrating an eternal birthday, one that will go on being celebrated long after our earthly birthday is forgotten.
However, this day is not written down in the chronicles of history. In fact most in the world pay no attention to this wonderful eternal life changing event which when trusted gives us more than any feat we might accomplish here on earth. Nevertheless, we are called to see, hear, believe, and trust what has been freely given to us, but given at great cost to Jesus Christ, nailed to the cross for all and raised to new life for all who trust in him. Therefore…
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practises righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (1 John 3:1-3,7 ESV) Amen.