Archive for category Baptism
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [NRSV]
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts..
It is my prayer that we see Jesus showing up in St Louis next month to make clear the direction of our Methodist future.
With the same uncertainly AND hope the people were anticipating the fulfillment of God’s promise to show up and lead the people.
Our text is about John the Baptist’s ministry of repentance for preparation. I offer that the United Methodist Church has been kicking-the-can on human sexuality for over forty years without repenting for not being better prepared for the struggle, division and need for spiritual leadership in this year. In these generations have we been looking for the gifts of discernment? Have we been open to God’s way of communicating grace and boundaries? How have we prepared to express the eternal love of God in an ever changing world?
The people in Israel were waiting for a Messiah, a king, who would right the wrongs of their current reality and restore Israel. Many were gathering to be baptized by John in expectation that something would soon happen — the Messiah was coming.
Is in John’s message, we are acknowledging that we have been quick to point fingers of blame and drawn out lines in the sand, WITHOUT, learning how to show the power of loving all sinners. He is not happy that some of the people have come to be saved. His call to be ready to receive the gift of the Messiah begins in making room and making the spiritual course correction. He calls folks to be baptized as sign of acknowledgment.
Affirming the value and meaning of the gift before receiving the gift.
Epiphany is a season of claiming our “Greater Gifts”, and today we will be exploring how baptism, as a “first gift” from God, leads us in life toward paths of discovering and rediscovering God-given gifts, activating those gifts through the Holy Spirit, understanding how our gifts are interrelated to the gifts of other disciples in the body of Christ, and how important it is to stay true to the heart of our God-given gifts — the love of God in Christ.
The gift is knowing God’s love for us, knowing the claim God invests on our behalf, and knowing what it means to walk with God in a personal and spiritual way.
So what about this gift of baptism?
Some of you may have never been baptized. Later in the service, we want to give you an opportunity to sign up to be baptized next week if you feel God calling. Some of you were baptized more recently; some recently confirmed the baptism of your childhood; and for some, perhaps it has been many years since your baptism.
What do you remember leading up to that moment? Or, what did your parents or guardians tell you about that moment? Who was present? What did it mean to them?
April 9, 1976, I received the gift of baptism and knew it in my head. I didn’t have the musical warmed heart I had hoped t know. It was that summer of 1977 that I felt God personal presence in my heart. In was forever changed. It was in the chapel at Camp Glisson, that God assured me that this wonderful gift of love and life was meant for the world, including me!
Today I invite you to be baptized and to remember your baptism. Remember love, the claim and the call Christ has in you and in your life.
Join me now and saying aloud:
I am a sinner saved in the love of Jesus Christ.
I have given my life to the work and Will odd Christ
Christ is working through me to reveal God’s work in the world.
It is Christ who lives in me, today, tomorrow and forever. Amen! Praise the Lord!
Remember your baptism!
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. [NRSV]
- When were you baptized? By whom? At what age were you baptized?
- What is the Spirit saying to the world through you as a baptized person in Christ?
- If you have not been baptized would you like to talk with John about Baptism?
Late summer in 1964, my parents handed me over to some old white-headed preacher in South Georgia, who I think was the District Superintendent at the time, who baptized me. The pastor asked my parents, my family, and the congregation gathered at the church to reaffirm their faith, to join in the promise to raise me in the faith. I believe I was less than three months old, but I don’t remember the details first hand. But I remember thirteen years later confirming that infant baptism. And in the past forty years have been lived on the roller coast of trust and doubt, obedience and sin, all grounded in life in Jesus Christ.
The water of salvation and the sacrificial blood of love have paved this ride. In the letter of first John there is in Chapter 5, the confirmation that belief in Jesus Christ is an ongoing choice of
- Baptism as Incorporation into the Body of Christ.
- Baptism as Forgiveness of Sin.
- Baptism as New Life.
- Baptism and Holy Living.
- Baptism is the doorway to the sanctified life.
- Baptism as God’s Gift to Persons of Any Age.
- Baptism is appropriate for any day the community of faith is gathered.
Baptism by Water and the Holy Spirit.
Water is the cleansing from the fate of sin and death, the blood is that sacrifice in grace through Christ the we become part of the presence of Christ in the world, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.
“I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together…
” The Church is the people of Christ. [UM Book of Hymns #475]
- Stories of the Believers:
- Witness of the Believers”
From the UMC.org site below:
Who tells you who you are?
We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.
To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”
Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.
God Initiates the Covenant
We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.
God Has Chosen Us
Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.
So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”
The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”
Baptism Is the Door
From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.
Why Baptize Babies?
From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.
Baptism Is Forever
Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.
Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End
You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.
If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.
What Is a Sacrament?
The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. [NRSV]
The Coach’s Gator-Aid Baptism: Acceptance and Celebration for winning or setting a record, but Christian baptism is not just a public celebration: it is about covenant making and covenant keeping.
Baptized in the Spirit vs Second Birth
Over time some churches and denominations have made more of the verse that is like intended. Some would teach that when you and I repent, acknowledge that we are sinners and believe Jesus to be our “Lord and Savior” that it is somehow a partial baptism that we must have a second baptism in the Spirit, as the sign of some spiritual maturity or marker of spiritual progress. When in fact this passage is about a lack of information, a shortcoming in the teaching and Paul wants all disciples to ha e the full story, the full benefit, and full connection as a disciple, believer and follower of Jesus.
Salvation for Wesley is the process that begins in the Holy Spirit before we are aware of what is happening, We mark our part in the process when we acknowledge Jesus Christ has died for our sins personally (thus justifying us through Grace and the Spirit), what follows in our response of becoming the person Jesus died and rose to save, the Spirit guiding us in the journey of sanctification toward the goal of wholeness in the Spirit, he called perfection.
Bottom line, if someone speaks of not having the Spirit it is actually a matter of perspective, ignorance (being misinformed or uninformed) and/or misinterpretation.
From the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit moved through the great chaos and spoke order and purpose. The Spirit moved in creation over the earth and was breathed into humanity giving us that very image, breath and spirit of God in us.
What makes us exceptional is that we each are Spirit-filled people, we all have the Spirit of God to credit for our life, our purpose and our meaning.
When the world denies or runs from God’s Holy Spirit
They do so in fear, misinformation, pride, personal desire to control, or a lack of experience/understanding.
So what? Our personal faith journey is to affirm we are spirit filled people, saved by Christ and living for God’s purpose, in God’s love, uniquely through each one of us.
So what’s the deal with this passage and Paul re-baptizing these folks?
- This passage is about teaching what baptism is about
- This passage s about understanding the work of the Holy Spirit
- It is for us a reminder that to be a Christian is to 1) be aware we are born of the Holy Spirit, 2) we are connected by the Spirit and 3) empowered by the Holy Spirit for Spiritual work and witness.
Part of this verse is about competing traditions:
“We have John the Baptist”… Our baptism is older and more closely connected to the first baptism, John the Baptizer, who baptized Jesus, “If John was Good Enough for Jesus, then John’s baptism is good enough for me. “Ours is the more traditional flavor.”
Paul is teaching that Baptism is the vehicle and not the destination.
It’s not owning/experiencing something, it is becoming something more important.
Paul’s correction is not saying John’s baptism was wrong, only that it conveyed part of the power:
The Two Parts of Baptism
The Jesus Part and the “my” part.
John the Baptist’s baptism was about repenting, acknowledging our sinfulness and our brokenness and that Jesus is the hope and salvation for our sins.
The second part is what difference does the Jesus part make in my life and how will accomplish my response to Jesus’s part.
Too many people settle for the utterance of words instead of the building of a relationship. Are you and I settlers?
Think of the marriage covenant:
Legally a couple is married when they have exchanged vows and pledged themselves to one another and both say the traditional, “I DO.”
But that is not the marriage, that is only the beginning of the covenant. The marriage is the journey of joys and struggles that span the time the couple shares.
Paul reminds us that we are
- Need Christ but also the Spirit
- Therefore help others find a way to grow in the Spirit
Invite someone to a life in Christ
Inquire what Baptism means to someone’s daily life
Back to School Homework
Do you remember your baptism?
Do it make any difference to you on this day?
If so how,
If not, let’s work on it together, is Paul model
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,
added to them all by shutting up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [ NRSV ]
I baptize with water
- Reclaiming the terms: Dunked, dipped or drizzled
- TELL USE ABOUT YOUR BAPTISM. Giving witness to our journey.
I am not worthy: we can do great things as good folks but without Jesus our value is he whim of popularity or eternity.
- Not the time for Jesus to be shut up. The corrupt government figures tried to quiet and stop the voice of the faithful, but God is not in our government. God is beyond laws.
- Baptism: the first step of many. John’s ministry begins with preparing us for a life with Jesus. Dressed in grace to transform the place.
Reclaiming our mission to baptize the world as the entry point to a life in Jesus Christ. Think of the people who we work, live, play, fellowship or struggle every week: who amount them does not know the power of Jesus living in there hearts?
- This is the year to have the conversations of intentionality and purpose: open our relations and interactions to be ways of revealing Jesus.
- Dont keep him imprisoned in our hearts, sing out the witness, love and presence of Christ. Leave it to guessing people have Christ or be certain. NOT FOR THIER SALVATION BUT FOR OURS
3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” [NRSV]
Baptism Text: The text from Matthew focuses on the relationship between Jesus and John and the fulfillment of scripture. It also describes the humanity of Jesus and affirms that baptism is not simply a cleansing ritual, but rather a presence and claim experience between us and God.
We celebrate and practice communion on a monthly basis. Each month we have the visual and tangible experience of finding Christ’s presence and it is a refresher or booster of our baptism.
Our communion table is Christ’s table and it open to all persons, for we are all in need of that grace and power of God’s claim on our lives.
Baptism is not a hoop to be checked-off as a membership requirement, although baptism is a sign that we are indeed members of the faith and joint heirs with Christ.
In Jesus’ baptism, it was not proof of his divinity, it is affirmation that we all need to be claimed by God.
Have you been baptized?
Do you remember?
I do not as I was only three months old and wore a linen dress on a hot south Georgia Sunday. Some strange man took me from my mother’s arms and poured cold water on my head and dress. Messed up my hair and caused me to scream and cry my eyes out. Finally I was returned to my father’s arms and was soon blinded by flash bulb from my grand parents who were then scolded for taking pictures in the sanctuary.
When I was thirteen I wore my sued chuck-a-boots, lime green leisure suit and parrot-paisley knit shirt to gather at the alter with my confirmation class lead by Sergeant Elizabeth Smith. I don’t know if she was ever in Uncle Sam’s army but she was certainly in the Lord’s Army and she prepared us to answer the perfect answers to the questions of examination of the faith. I don’t know if anyone at that altar that morning had a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus experience, but we were well dressed, well prepared and knew exactly where to stand.
It was more likely that I felt the presence of God’s Spirit in a recognizable way, for the first time, while a camper at Camp Glisson a year after my confirmation.
Divine Divide of Grace and Time
In the Matthew Text the timing between the human-to-human conversation and ritual of coming to John at the river is not about a confession of sinfulness for Jesus.
- 1. John’s invitation to believers and followers was to turn toward God, repentance. It is a spiritual alignment.
- Placing ourselves aimed toward God, from where ever we are and face where we are going and becoming in God’s grace.
- 2. There is the response of Jesus accepting the ritual and practice of belonging to those who need God’s claim of their lives.
- There is a transformation from John’s invitation to get cleaned-up to Jesus’s choosing to commit his life to the ministry of God’s choosing. So the water becomes not only cleansing; it also is a preparing for part two of our lives.
- 3. Is God’s claim of our willingness to place our lives and trust in God’s hands and heart.
- This is my child. When we are baptized, we also become child of God.
This is My Child
The most powerful part of the text is the claiming part of baptism. God declares, this is MY child. This person that John baptize is claim by God, not by John. Baptism is not so much a church ritual as it is a divine parental defining of our identity and relationship with God. We are the kids, God is the parent. We are the family together.
Questions and More Questions:
So are we not Children of God before we are baptized?
The simple answer is no, but that is not a completely helpful answer.
Yes we are children of God’s creation, filled with grace and hope of becoming one who chooses God’s heart to guide our lives. But God does not force the inheritance upon us. But it is ours for the taking.
The Door is Open
Think of Baptism as a doorway. You can walk in and see the life God has prepared for us. And once you have seen it you know what life God has for you. It is reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.
We might think we can walk through that door, but the only way to undo awareness of coming of age is to choose rejection or apathy. But the Door of Baptism never closes.
There are those who would teach that you better utter the magic words, “I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior” before we draw out last breath because then it is too late. But they does not actually follow with a Gracious Parent who crosses the chasm of death to make a way for us.
A View from the Lap of God.
If you are seated in God’s lap, embraced in arms of love and mercy, kneely at the feet of the one who breathed breath from your first and last, if you look into God’s eyes and say: “I want no part of you, let me go.” I believe God lets us go.
If you are face to face with God in judgement and God asks, “Do you love me” and we reply “I hate you.” God does not force us to love.
If we are faced with the full picture of our life filled with failures, fears, sins and struggle and we say “Lord have Mercy” Why would God of Grace revert to the ways of the Law? God will have mercy
SO WHY NOT WAIT UNTIL THEN?
It is the power, life, claim, assurance, comfort, peace, grace, love that we live without if we wait.
God wants for each of us to be part of the family, why would someone want to just be a guest when they could be kin?
Salvation is a process. (Baptism is the start)
We are claimed and saved so that we can grow in relationship with God and God’s people.
This is why we are a church.
To claim the outsider, the orphan, the widow, the forgotten, the rejected, the proud, the hard-hearted, that together we grow together toward God.
When there are those outside the family, how can we celebrate in the house?
(The unwritten part of the Prodigal Sons story: The father can’t be in the party when there are those on the outside looking in with anger, jealousy, fear, division, confusion, hate, etc.)
Baptism is our entrance into the party of salvation.
Come on in, the Party is on!
Notes from UMC.org and GBOD.org
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” [NRSV].
At the end of a bowl game, two of the players who are strong enough to lift the orange Gatorade ice cooler but not usually known for much playing time on the field anoint their coach on the sidelines within a few seconds of the ending of winning the game. Have you ever seen the loosing coach receive the icy bath at the games end? Maybe that baptism is only for winners.
Mr Webster: defines baptism as a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community ( an act, experience, or ordeal by which one is purified, sanctified, initiated, or named )
As United Methodist, Mr Wesley might call baptism a dependable experience of Grace and presence of Christ With Us.
But what is ‘baptism’ to us, today?
It is that rare sprinkling of a baby’s head when they are still small enough to be carried or the even more rare confirmation student who was not baptized as an infant coming with class or the even most rare of all is the adult or teen who comes to accept full baptism into the church.
Baptism is the ticket stub. Do you remember when Hank Arron hit the home run to break Babe Ruth’s record? I had the ticket from the game at the end of the prior season where he hit 713. You say “so what” about that game? It was the game where I was there, in person, a shouting and celebrating fan, cheering hope and faith that history would be changed in my presence. That’s my ticket to the game I attended. I went friends from my class at school. It was a glorious night in the nose-bleed seats of FUL-CO Stadium.
Baptism is our ticket into the church. It is the open door. Once you enter through baptism, you know the heat of Christ is always open. Do you know someone who thinks that door is shut for them? Think what they are missing:
Isaiah 43:1-7 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth– everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” [NRSV]
Adoption is a good example of the relationship of Baptism. The parents choose the child knowing much about the child. Gender, health records, birth parent and/or context of life prior to becoming part of one’s family.
God knows us before we are ready to claim God and God’s family. Baptism is as much about God Choosing us and our choosing Christ.
Did you know that UMC clergy/pastor have the right and responsibility to deny someone who they believe should not be baptized and kept out of the church. Generally we are so desperate for members we would do anything to baptism someone. They do put pressure and measure the success-fulness of our ministry leadership by the number of baptisms we have during a year. I struggle with this because we don’t want to be like our Baptist Neighbor churches and focus just on getting people into the heavenly seats, we also want the relationship that should go with the ticket.
Claimed vs Owned
Hear God’s words in text from Luke: “This is my child.” Imagine what this world might be like if more parents would claim their children. We are starting a class for all you guys beginning the last Saturday of this month. Letter’s from Dad. (You don’t even have to be a father to participate) In this class you will learn to write letters of blessing. Your whole family will benefit and you will be the hero. Don’t miss it! You will miss out and so will those you love.
The parent’s claim upon a child is a powerful gift for both the child and the parent. Tell you children that you love them. Tell you parents that you appreciate, love and forgive them. Tell you spouse, significant-other, girl/boy friend that you respect and admire them… butting in writing, say it out loud, make it real.
God speaks and sends a the spirit in the form of a dove. Saying I claim and accept you. I don’t own you. We don’t have to have a relationship but I choose to claim you any way.
The Active Witness
Going to those who are missing the POWERFUL part of faith.
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [NRSV]
If there is someone who may have head knowledge about Jesus, but no spirit of joy, spirit of hope, spirit of faith, spirit of forgiveness, spirit of love, spirit of grace, trust, peace… then get to them and lay hands on them.
The first thing I learned about being a brother is that no matter how dirty the diaper, you can always wash your hands. But if you don’t get your hands dirty sometimes, then you all enjoy the foul smell of a diaper gone bad…
Our challenge in hearing this story of God’s claiming and Jesus being baptized is that ALL of use are in this together and if you’ve not been baptized, what are you waiting for? if you have who will you lead to the water and to the Holy Spirit?
Peter and John, go to bring the power of the Spirit and change complete families and communities… This is why we are a church. This is what we do. Baptism in Jesus Christ.
REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM!
8:26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. NRSV
Where is God calling us to go? witness? serve? disciple?
- Listen, a prayerful preparation
- Phillip is connected to the heart and spirit, that what prayer does
- Get Up, Don’t just sit there
- Phillip models our readiness to respond when called.
- Firefighter’s bell, alarm clock’s buzzer, etc.
- Go, Don’t just get our attention, move out of our plans into God’s
- Phillip is not just awake and connected, he is in action, for God
- Speak up, Teach, and Instruct
- Meeting the CFO of Ethiopia crosses cultural, racial and social lines.
- Being ready to teach and explain the faith we know in our heads to others who are searching, struggling and asking.
- Respond to the spiritual needs, baptism
- The request of the Ethiopian was not traditional or typical
- If all we need is water and willingness, why not stop here and now.
- Seize the moment to witness and share the grace of Jesus Christ.
- If not Baptism, in feeding, clothing, visiting, teaching, healing, comforting, etc.
- Stay as long as you are needed. Leaving… to continue with others.
- Share the Good News with others.
- Phillip’s willingness to pray and listen, get up and actually go, share and be hand-on-the-ground, has something to share.
WRITE your 50-100 words to practice what you will say when called. “What does it mean to put God first?”
If I don’t know God’s power and grace, give what I do know away.
Go to Honduras, to work, school, across town or where ever God calls
Get up and go to those who we know are hurting, searching and confused
And respond to the needs you find, which what is at hand…
and THEN you will have something to talk about with others.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” NRSV
Peter is found here making a public faith witness, some would say preaching or might say giving a testimony. I suggest that he is seizing the floor and turning the tables on his audience to share his faith in Jesus Christ.
In the 23rd psalm we are familiar of the two images of Gods grace, first is the good shepherd and second is the banquet of excess in the presence of ones enemies. This is the setting in which Peter is speaking.
Recall, it is the same high priest that called for Jesus to be turned over and crucified… Peter who had be hesitant and denying is now bold in the Holy Spirit.
We have young girls and boys that have come to make a public and bold statement that it is Jesus Christ that lives in them and this day forward they are living boldly for Jesus Christ.
For some it is a curious ritual, confirmation, but it is a witness of God’s love at work.
It is the beginning of a journey of faith. Our accepting the life and help Christ offers.
It does not mean we are ready to move mountains.
Think about Peter:
Gets to see transfiguration but misses the point of being in the moment and spiritual confirmation.
Peter walks on the water but sinks when we looks at the storm I stead of Jesus.
Peter go who tells Jesus what he should be doing and Jesus call Peter Satan himself
And Peter who denies Jesus three times Ana is hiding after the resurrection…
And now, Peter, in the face of bodily harm or even death proclaims with boldness. There is a vast period of trial and maturity for him.
Those who profess ‘Jesus is Lord!” for the first time here today have not been tested in the ways that are coming.
They will face fears, disappoints, jealousy, temptations, and endure spiritual failures.
Yet Peter’s boldness in the Holy Spirit is a witness of the maturity that will come.
In 1974 I confirmed the baptism that my parents started in 1964. And a rather uneventful Sunday I too stood at the alter rail with my class hoping I would hear the voice of God would speak to my heart, if not to the whole lot of us. But other than hymns and rituals it was a silent worship time.
Just last year at the Jordan river I prayed that God might have a word or two speak with boldness.. Near the ancient source. But it too was a silent experience, until I was about to get back on the bus, and with the clarity that I now speak to you, I heard these words, “I have not forgotten you, I am yours and you are mine,”
Within moments of this divine moment the bus pulled away on a schedule that did not allow me to linger and cherish the moment. It would be words of assurance that empower other days that have followed and will follow..
Not in my time but in the time I need Gods boldness.
Here is a faith statement from one of our confirmands:
To me, being a Christian means to love Jesus Christ with all of your heart and be as Christian like as possible at all times, and never be afraid to spread his word. I also think that you should take time during the day and have an alone time with God. Most of my alone times with are God are in the mornings and evenings, before I eat, and sometimes when I just feel I need to pray. Being a Christian also means participating in church activities like mission trips, fundraisers, church services, etc. Lastly, I think being a Christian means that you should accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and that he died for you and everybody else, and that what I think it means to be a Christian.
They share this anonymously today but the days are coming when boldness will shine.
The question that Peter models for us, is will we be bold when we need to be?
Twitter has been the bold voice at General Conference from my overhearing.
When will you stand up for Christ… Is it when you are comfortable and ready or when God is asking to speak through you? Be bold. Be bold. Don’t be right, be bold! Be in the spirit and be bold, today!
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” -NRSV
Baptism: John’s Baptism vs Jesus’baptism
Our repentance of what we think God wants vs God’s claim on our life not matter what we have done.
A cleansing of sin and a washing away of that which is dirty VS. God who made us, making our spirit brand new.
62. Baptism is a crucial threshold that we cross on our journey in faith. But there are many others, including the final transition from death to life eternal. Through baptism we are incorporated into the ongoing history of Christ’s mission, and we are identified and made participants in God’s new history in Jesus Christ and the new age that Christ is bringing. We await the final moment of grace, when Christ comes in victory at the end of the age to bring all who are in Christ into the glory of that victory. Baptism has significance in time and gives meaning to the end of time. In it we have a vision of a world recreated and humanity transformed and exalted by God’s presence. We are told that in this new heaven and new earth there will be no temple, for even our churches and services of worship will have had their time and ceased to be, in the presence of God, “the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21-22).
63. Until that day, we are charged by Christ to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Baptism is at the heart of the Gospel of grace and at the core of the Church’s mission. When we baptize we say what we understand as Christians about ourselves and our community: that we are loved into being by God, lost because of sin, but redeemed and saved in Jesus Christ to live new lives in anticipation of his coming again in glory. Baptism is an expression of God’s love for the world, and the effects of baptism also express God’s grace. As baptized people of God, we therefore respond with praise and thanksgiving, praying that God’s will be done in our own lives.
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” -NRSV
Rainbow: the Perspective of God’s Promise, Creation, and Plans
- Sign of Promise: Remember the covenants of salvation: garden, work not death, olive branch, not Water-world… and from our perspective: Jesus!
- Sign of Creation: only viewable from our perspective at 42 degress.
- Sing of God’s Plans: No matter the floods and disasters, God will be with us.