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    • 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 our Lord Year B RCL 01/11/15

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

This morning, we celebrate the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. We begin with the creation of the world. Specifically, our reading calls us to reflect on God’ s creation of light. At every point in the work of creation, God sees that the creation is good, God sees that the light is good,  and God divides the light from the dark and calls the light Day and the dark Night. Always, God sees that the creation is good.

Epiphany is the season of light and mission. The light has come into the world and is spreading over all the earth. As I write this, the temperature is well below zero. For several days, the wind chill has been at record levels. Now, as the light of Christ is coming into the world, we have passed the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, and the days, thanks be to God, are growing longer.

Jesus has come to be with us. A new creation is beginning. Paul says that in Christ each of us is a new creation.

In our epistle for today, Paul goes to Ephesus. A teacher named Apollos had been in Ephesus before Paul arrived there. Apollos was a disciple of John, and he baptized people into the baptism of John the Baptist.That is, he baptized them into a baptism of repentance.  Apollos did not teach that in baptism we become children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. He did not teach that in baptism we receive the Holy Spirit. He did not teach about Jesus.

Paul does not say anything to the people about the limitations of Apollos’ teaching. He simply and lovingly meets them where they are. He baptizes them in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and, when he lays his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and bestows gifts upon them. When we are baptized, we receive all the gifts which we need to carry out our ministries. We become children of God.  We become members of the living Body of Christ, here to share his love and healing with the world.

In our gospel, John is baptizing people in the River Jordan. His baptism is a baptism of repentance. He is calling people to turn their lives over to God, to confess their sins right there on the river bank, to admit their past failings and their need for God, and begin a new life. Although he is out in the country, far from the power centers of the city, hundreds of people are flocking to him to hear his message and ask God to transform their lives.

John has a clear understanding of who he is and who Jesus is. We remember that, right after the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth was pregnant with John, who would later be called the Baptist. When Mary met Elizabeth, the baby John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. Even at that point, he recognized Jesus, when both John and Jesus were still in their mothers’ wombs.

From the beginning, John recognized who Jesus was. John said he was not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. He said that he must decrease and Jesus must increase. John is such an inspiring example of humility. He knew exactly who he was and who he was not. He had no desire to build his own empire. He was not competing with Jesus. He knew that he was called to prepare the way of the Lord, as Isaiah had written many centuries before. And that is what he did.

Jesus wades into the Jordan and allows himself to be baptized by John, But John is saying, “You should be baptizing me.” Jesus, the eternal Word who called the creation into being, walks into the River Jordan so that his cousin John can immerse him, baptize him. As Jesus rises up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and God says, “You are my son, the beloved. With you I am well pleased.”

Herbert O’Driscoll wisely reminds us that God is saying those words to us. “You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter.”

The light is coming into the world, The love is coming into the world. The joy is coming into the world and into our lives. Darkness and brokenness and hatred flee before this light and love and joy.

In baptism, we know who we really are, We are children of God. Jesus has come to be with us, and we know we are not alone. The creator of the universe has come to be our brother. We have seen God walking the face of the earth, and we can follow him.

In a moment, we will renew our own baptismal vows.  We will renew our promise to “persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever we fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.” We will renew our promise  to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” We will renew our promise to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.” And we will renew our promise to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” Our baptism is really our ordination to our ministries in the Body of Christ. We are really promising to be the Body of Christ, to spread his compassion and healing wherever we go.

This is a very tall order. We will not always do it perfectly. We will stumble. We will need to ask for help to get back on track. We will not always be as compassionate as we want to be. But, every step of the way, our Lord will be right beside us. In fact, he will often be out in front of us, guiding us, yes, protecting us, encouraging us, untangling us from the briars of despair, leading us to good pasture and to still waters. Always, always, there will be his light, which no darkness can overcome. Always, always, there will be his love, which is stronger than hate, stronger than death, stronger than fear. Always, always, he will be with is. And gradually, steadily, we will be transformed, and his shalom will cover the whole wide earth.  Amen.

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