Sunday, January 13, 2019

Baptism of our Lord & Annual Meeting: Baptized to manifest divine love

Lectionary: Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. A short sermon today cognizant of the time we will spend in Annual Meeting later in the service.

Note: IF the above player doesn't work on your device, click HERE for alternative audio format.

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

For Episcopalians, “Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church" In Baptism God establishes an an indissoluble bond with us. (BCP, 298)

In this bond, we are offered an intimate, familial relationship with the One whose power is so great as to be frightening when we think on it, but who approaches us gently, saying: " are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…”

The bond assures us that when (not if) we pass through difficult times God is with us so we won’t be overwhelmed or destroyed. As God says through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not fear... for I have redeemed you."

Definition of redeem:
1. to regain possession of;
2. to fulfill or carry out a pledge or promise

This is what God demonstrates by Jesus’ baptism. God re-takes possession of humanity in Jesus, the beloved, at his baptism in front of his faith community. Then we witness the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation through Jesus. In his life and ministry Jesus passed through many troubled waters and fiery attacks – and God was with him redeeming every thing, every one, every time.

Jesus’ baptism didn’t free him from trouble in his life – it gave him the means to use it for the glory of God and the welfare of God’s people. The same is true for us within our church community and beyond.

In the gospel of Luke God descends in bodily form, that is, in a way that those present could see. Luke tells us that as the boundary between heaven and earth was being ripped opened, the Spirit of God descended softly, gently (like a dove would) on Jesus as God ushered redeeming change into the world through him.

Suddenly, this man, Jesus, whom everyone knew up until then as Mary’s son, the cousin of John the Baptizer, the learned rabbi, was understood to be the beloved Son of God - divine love made manifest in the world.

We, like Jesus, are transformed by our baptism into a body of beloved daughters and sons of God. As such we are called to manifest divine love in the world today, a world still being redeemed by God.

Sometimes, living out God’s covenantal call to us can cause some discomfort. It can definitely cause insecurity, even fear, about what we should do next. Is this what God really wants from us? Jesus asked the same thing in the garden at Gethsemane. It’s part of the deal.

But being faithful to to God and to our baptismal covenant means being willing to pray, together as a body and privately, to listen for the voice from heaven which will guide us as God ushers redeeming change into our world.

Being faithful means resisting the temptation to determine how things ought to go, and instead, making space in our lives - and our life in community - for the Spirit of God to descend upon us softly, gently, like a dove, so that we can be transformed by God’s love and answer our baptismal call to manifest that love into our world for the glory of God and the welfare of all God’s people.


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