Pastor Susan’s Sermon

The Baptism of Our Lord

January 10, 201520150413_104923

You know the one: a four year old boy was baptized, and is being driven home by his parents after church. Suddenly he bursts into tears. His concerned mother asks him whatever is wrong with him. “Well, I heard you promise to have me brought up in a Christian family, but I want to stay with you guys!”

Today we encounter Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River. When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended upon him. This Spirit was the very presence and power of God. This was the same Spirit that was present in creation, when God created the world. When darkness was upon the face of the deep, and God’s ruach-God’s Spirit, blew across the face of the deep, and creation came into being.

This Spirit gave Jesus unusual power. By the power of the Spirit of God in him, he turned water into wine, controlled the wind and waves of the sea, cured the lepers, healed the deaf and blind, raised the dead to life. Jesus had power to fight the forces of evil in the world. Immediately after his baptism, Jesus was sent out into the wilderness to be tempted and tested by the devil, the tempter. Jesus stood up to every test. Throughout his ministry, Jesus confronted and tamed the demons around him. He demonstrated that God’s power was stronger than evil.

In his baptism, Jesus was also declared to be the Son of God. The voice out of heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” This voice of God identified Jesus as being the Suffering Servant.  The quotation, “this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” is a quotation from Isaiah 42.   Jesus is identified as being the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. Through his suffering and death Jesus would become the Savior of the world.

In our baptism, the same Spirit that came down upon Jesus, that same Spirit that was brooding over the waters at creation,  that same Spirit has come into your life and mine.  In your baptism, the Spirit of God came into you and you became a member of the community of the Spirit. In this community of the Spirit, you are to grow spiritually through worship, Bible study, and works of the spirit. God also looks at you and me and says, “This is my beloved son, this is my beloved daughter in whom I delight.

When we are baptized into Christ Jesus we become a new creation, a child of God, and a member of the body of Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we are united with all the baptized throughout all time and space. We are family–because through baptism Water Truly becomes Thicker than Blood1.

 

In our Baptism we are also given power. Imagine the power that exists right here in this room, if we were all to put our energy into one task, say, building a Habitat House. Now, imagine if we teamed up with the folks at Gethsemane Church to build that house. Let’s add in the Catholics, remember, water is thicker than blood—we’re all baptized children of God. What about if we teamed up with all the Christians in Virginia—just imagine the power we would have! Imagine what we could accomplish for God and for the Kingdom. Just as Jesus was given power to fight individual and society’s ills, so we, too, have that same power.
A fellow bought an old organ which had been magnificent in its day, but now it was dilapidated, banged up and hardly played at all any more. So he called in experts from all over the world, hoping they could restore it.

When they had finished the organ looked like new. The little angels were shiny and clean; the ornamental carved leaves had smooth curves and corners. The botchy varnish was gone.

The only problem was that the insides were sitting in boxes on the floor. The owner continued to advertise for organ experts to fix and restore his organ. But no one could do it.

One day a little wizenly, half-blind old man knocked on the door. The Butler laughed at him saying, “What makes you think you can fix it? We’ve had experts here from all over the world.”

But the owner overheard the discussion and answered saying that it couldn’t hurt to try. So the stranger set out to work. After several days, he had the organ operating like new. When asked how he could do this, he replied, “I made it.” 2

“I made it… I made you… I have redeemed you… I have called you by name… I love you… you are mine…” That’s what God says and does for us. Marked with the indelible Cross of Christ on our forehead, we are given this promise: wherever we go, whatever we do, God will hold on to us forever. Thanks be to God! Amen.