• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Epiphany 1 The Baptism of Christ January 8, 2012

Genesis 1: 1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19: 1-7
Mark 1: 4-11

This entire Sunday begins with and is framed within God’s work of creation as written in the Book of Genesis. God creates the heavens and the earth, and we always need to remember that God saw that the creation is good. Then the wind, the ruach, the wind of the Spirit sweeps over the face of the waters. And God says, “Let there be light.” And God sees that the light is good. And God creates the day and the night.

This mention of the light emphasizes that Epiphany is the season of light. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it and will not overcome it. The light is growing as the days lengthen. Epiphany is the season of mission and ministry, the season in which we concentrate especially on spreading the good news of God’s love. 

As we turn to today’s epistle, we hear the name of Apollos. He is a charismatic and popular religious leader who travels around creating communities of followers. He knows of the baptism of John, but he does not realize that, when we are baptized, we receive the Holy Spirit. So, when Paul arrives in Ephesus, he learns that the people in that community of faith do not know about the Holy Spirit. Paul meets the people where they are, He does not criticize Apollos for this lack in his teaching. He simply tells the people about the Spirit. When they are baptized, they burst forth with the gifts of the Spirit.

In Mark’s gospel, there is no birth in Bethlehem, there are no angels, no wise men. This gospel begins with the ministry of John the Baptist in the wilderness.  John wears the same garments as the great prophet Elijah. As professor Paul Galbreath writes,  “John’s rhetoric parallels Elijah’s blistering condemnation of the powerful leaders.” These similarities between John and Elijah lead the people to think that Elijah is returning to announce the coming of the Messiah.

John preaches his message in the wilderness, far from the centers of power in Jerusalem and elsewhere. This renewal movement has its center at the fringes of society. Yet people crowd to the wilderness from those centers of power. Something new is beginning. Going to the wilderness is a symbol of pilgrimage, and this is going to be a pilgrimage to a transformed and new life.

Jesus joins the crowd and is baptized in the Jordan River, the same river where Elijah passed the prophetic mantle to his successor, Elisha, the same Jordan River that Moses looked over but was not destined to cross into the promised land.  However, God’s people would cross that river in their journey with and toward God.  This is a place full of meaning and promise.

John makes it clear that his baptism is a preparation for the ministry of Jesus. Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. The root word for baptism in Greek means literally drowning. Baptism is a death to the old life and the beginning of a transformation into the new life. As Jesus is coming up out of the water, God speaks: “You are my Son, the Beloved. With you I am well pleased.”

Herbert O’Driscoll calls us to realize that God is saying this to us. “You are my Son. You are my daughter. My beloved.” God is telling us how beloved we are. God is calling us to be agents of God’s transformation, agents of the Holy Spirit.

This morning, we are going to renew our baptismal vows. As we do this, we can ask ourselves some questions.

First,  in what ways does my faith in the Holy Spirit motivate my thoughts and .Do I ask the Spirit to work through me?

Secondly, in what ways is Jesus the guiding light in my life?

As we ask ourselves these questions, it is important for us to place our baptism in the flow and framework of God’s actions from the creation, through the baptism of Christ, which was the beginning of his formal ministry, through all the actions of his ministry—his preaching, teaching, healing, forgiving, accepting, his unwavering insistence on including everyone, his dying because he threatened the status quo and the power of those whose jobs depended on the status quo, his rising to new life, his appearance to the women at the tomb, to those walking the road to Emmaus, to disciples on a beach sharing a meal of fish and bread, to Thomas and others in the upper room, and to us in so many ways today. His ministry is not ended. We are carrying it on at this very moment. He is alive, and we are alive in him and with him.

So, as we renew our baptismal vows, as we reaffirm that we are his ministers by virtue of our baptisms, let us be joyfully aware that we are his body, that we are here to share his love and healing.

The mystic and theologian Teresa of Avila wrote in the sixteenth century:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

                                                                                                                                  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: