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Baptism of The Lord, January 21, 2024

Mark 1:1-11, We know where and when Jesus was baptized.  So, how about you?  Where and when was your baptism?  Who was there and how were you baptized?  Immersion, pouring, sprinkling? 

                    When I was baptized, we didn’t go to the river.  I was sprinkled with water, from a baptismal font similar to ours here at Harmonie Church.  Sprinklings, pouring, and immersion, are all found in the Bible and therefore they are all fine ways to be baptized. 

          It’s the work of GOD that is important! 

                    Baptism is the sealing of the Holy Spirit!!  Baptism is NOT REQUIRED FOR SALVATION.  Jesus told the thief hanging next to him on the cross, that he would be with him in paradise; and the thief was not baptized.

                    When I was baptized, on January 6th, 1952, when I was 9-weeks-old, it was, my parents, godparents, the congregation and pastor making covenant vows.  They said what they would do.  Those folks said, “yes,” but it is GOD through the Holy Spirit that we celebrate what GOD SAYS GOD WILL DO; and that’s sealing us with his Holy Spirit in his love.

                    The same pastor that baptized me, Rev. Paul Wobus, also lead my confirmation class, when I was about 13 years old, where I confirmed for myself, the commitment my parents made at my baptism to GOD and the Church when I was two months old. 

                    We promise our commitment to GOD and the Church; and the congregation promises to GOD and the rest of the congregation to support the person being baptized or confirmed and also makes a promise to that person to support them.  It’s a triangle, a very powerful triangle!

                    That’s why baptisms should always be part of a worship service with the congregation participating in making and receiving the promises; NO MATTER how old the person is getting baptized.

                    At Confirmation was when I said, “Yes!” to Jesus. 

          Since my confirmation, I’ve fallen down on my promises several times and I’ve renewed my commitment to GOD, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, several times in my life. 

                    God has never failed to keep good on God’s promises; and GOD WON’T FAIL YOU NOW!!

                    Ok, so John the Baptist and Jesus preach a lot of the same things, RIGHT?  Repent your sins and receive forgiveness.

                    Mark’s Gospel was the first Gospel written around 70 AD, and Luke and Matthew used Mark as an outline and then added what they thought was important.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the synoptic Gospels, seeing things in a similar way.

                    Please turn in you pew Bible to page 836, Mark’s Gospel chapter 1 verse 1.  Please pay attention to what John the Baptist said, and did!!

          “John the Baptist Prepares the Way

          1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

          2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

          “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

              who will prepare your way,

          3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

              ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,

              make his paths straight,’”

          4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

          8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

                    My friends, we can learn from John the Baptist that we can help prepare a path for other folks to get connected to Jesus.

          The Baptism of Jesus, starting on verse 9,

          “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

                    Friends, can you imagine hearing GOD say to his Son,

          “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”?

          WOW!!  GOD said that to Jesus, and I hope and pray you know now or will come to know that GOD is saying to each and everyone of us, “You are my beloved Child; with you I am well pleased.”

                    I deeply believe IF every person knew they were loved by GOD, we would be working so much closer together.  And we could help everyone get the things their family needs to have a wonderful life to the Glory of GOD.

                    But being baptized doesn’t mean no challenges, no suffering.  Please hear the next two verses, 12 and 13.

          The Temptation of Jesus

          12 “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.  And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.”

                    Jesus was tempted and as you all know, we’re tempted, too.  GOD’S Holy Spirit can help us fight the temptations.

                    Let me ask you all again, “Do you know you are the beloved child of GOD?”

                    Please allow me to share Henri Nouwen’s devotion entitled, Beloved

          “In the world there are many other voices speaking – loudly: "Prove that you are the beloved.  Prove you're worth something.  Prove you have any contribution to make.  Do something relevant.  Be sure to make a name for yourself.  At least have some power -- then people will love you; then people will say you're wonderful, you're great."

          “These voices are so strong.  They touch our hidden insecurities and drive us to become very busy trying to prove to the world that we are good people who deserve some attention. Sometimes we think that our busyness is just an expression of our vocation, but Jesus knew that often our attempts to prove our worth are an example of temptation.  Right after Jesus heard the voice say, "You are my beloved," another voice said, "Prove you are the beloved.  Do something.  Change these stones into bread.  Be sure you're famous.  Jump from the Temple..."

          Jesus said, "No, I don't have to prove anything.  I am already beloved."  End Quote.

                    My friends, PLEASE know that you are the Beloved child of GOD and YOU DON’T HAVE TO PROVE ANYTHING!! 

                    And the good news is that you just have to follow Jesus, as your Lord and Savior. 

          GOD has something for YOU TO ACCOMPLISH THIS YEAR.  Each one of us have been given a gift.  How does God want you to use your gift?  We need to respond to HIS LEADING in our lives because God has called EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!!

          Baptism is a Symbol of NEW BEGINNINGS.  Jesus was in one sense at least putting HIS OLD WAY OF LIFE BEHIND HIM. 

          Jesus would no longer BE A CARPENTER’S SON but would BEGIN THE MINISTRY HE CAME TO FULFILL. 

                    Baptism MARKS THE BEGINNING of that ministry as Jesus   HEADED TOWARD THE CROSS. 

                    This was when He began TO PREACH, TEACH AND HEAL the sick, CASTING OUT DEMONS and doing ALL SORTS OF MIRACULOUS WORKS.  Jesus began a NEW PHASE OF HIS MINISTRY at Baptism.

                    GOD the Father APPROVED of Christ’s baptism.  “You are my Son the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” 

          GOD approves of OUR Baptism as an ACT OF WORSHIP. 

                    GOD also calls us to A LIFESTYLE OF WORSHIP and with the HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WE CAN LIVE TO PLEASE GOD. 

                    THAT IS WHAT YOU WERE BAPTIZED FOR: 

                    TO GIVE GOD GLORY, HONOR, AND PRAISE!! 

          To be united in Christ Jesus as part of his body in the Church of Christ; listening to Jesus’ Great Commandment to Love GOD and Love one another 

          and accept our Great Commission to work with the Church

          to Make Disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

                    Today is the day to REMEMBER your baptism,

                    RECLAIM your baptism, and

                    RECOMMIT to Christ Jesus!

                    Please find the insert entitled:

          A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition

          John Wesley.  This prayer was adapted by John Wesley for the renewal of the believer’s covenant with GOD.  The prayer was first used in a covenant renewal service on August 11, 1755.

          Let us pray this prayer together as we prepare for Holy Communion”

          Father in heaven,

          I am no longer my own, but thine.

          Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

          Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

          Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

          exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

          Let me be full, let me be empty.

          Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

          I freely and heartily yield all things

          to thy pleasure and disposal.

          And now, O glorious and blessed God,

          Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

          thou art mine, and I am thine.  So be it.

          And the covenant which I have made on earth,

          let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

         

          Please pray with me as we prepare for Holy Communion.

          Oh Great and Loving GOD…

         

         

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