Sunday, January 10, 2016 The Baptism of Our Lord

January 10, 2016


 A fountain of connection and commonality among Christians or a source of controversy and difference?


Some claim they baptize the way it was done in the Bible: adults, believers, dunking, running water.  A Christian in the Pentecostal tradition put forth that argument in a recent conversation; no babies, no sprinkling, no way!

These lessons may shock my recent visitor who held that the Bible presents THE (read ‘one, true, right and only’) way re baptism. 

In Luke John baptizes Jesus just with water.  No special words nor ‘in the name of…..’, apparently After all are baptized, the Holy Spirit shows up, kind of a gift to the whole group, not individualized.   Hmmm?  Model #1.

The lesson from Acts 8 relates that the people in Samaria were baptized just ‘in the name of Jesus’.  Then Peter and John went to pray with them and lay hands on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  Hmmm. Model #2.

At the end of Matthew’s Gospel story that verse known as the Great Commission advises those so charged with the mission to go and make disciple first by baptizing ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.   Hmmm.  Model #3. 

All this – plus more for which we have not space here – leads me to consider that there was no ONE way re baptism . . .  even in the Bible.  As the early Christian community was emerging it was formed by some different how’s.  The ‘who’ forming the Body was the same, but the process changed and evolved with time, context, and circumstance. 

We continue in that evolving Body of Christ in 2016.   Let us center on the commonality of God’s loving reach and let us be gracious with the differences.

For further reflection

Where and when were you baptized?  By what method?

Has your status as a baptized Christian ever been questioned because of the method by which you were baptized?

How do you see the church being called to continually evolve?

Almighty God, you anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and revealed him as your beloved Son. Keep all who are born of water and the Spirit faithful in your service, that we may rejoice to be called children of God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

SERMON:  “An Evolving Church”

WORD OF THE WEEK –  from Luke 3
16John 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.
FIRST LESSON from: 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.
2When 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.
3For 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.
4Because 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.
5Do not fear, for I am with you;
            I will bring your offspring from the east,
            and from the west I will gather you;
6I 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--
7everyone who is called by my name,
            whom I created for my glory,
            whom I formed and made."
SECOND LESSON from 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. 15The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY GOSPEL according to Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John 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. 17His 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."

            21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and 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."