January 10, 2016
Stetson Memorial UMC
Second Sunday of 2016
“Baptism of the Lord Sunday”
Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV
Acts 8:14-17 MSG
Psalm 29 NIV
Matthew 3:13-17 NIV
“Fire and Water…!”
Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…
Last week, we talked about “epiphanies” and how they just kind of happen. For instance, your reading one of those long sections in the bible that you have read at least a hundred times. All of the sudden you have this unveiling of your eyes and you all the sudden have this understanding that you have never had before. That’s an epiphany. God revealed something in His word that He felt you needed to see and understand.
In studying for my sermon, and that is an epiphany in itself…I am actually studying when I prepare a sermon…I had one of those epiphany appointments. Today is baptism of the Lord Sunday. Now I realize that you receive the Holy Spirit at baptism and it is through the baptismal waters that we receive grace. I have written many sermons on water and the Spirit. But this time…this time…there was a deeper understanding…an epiphany… (Speak from the Spirit about water and our baptism by the fire of God).
So this is when fire and water work together. It’s when the water of our baptism works with the flame…the fire…of the Holy Spirit. You need both in baptism, both fire and water. In our baptism of water…our rebirth…we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit…the flame within us. We are re-created into a new person. God, through Christ, recreates us into a new creation. God loves to create. In Genesis we hear about how God created light over the waters. God created…the earth was birthed, out of the waters that covered the earth. Something new was created out of the water. But in our baptism there is yet another element that is added to the creation. Fire is added…the Holy Spirit…to complete the new creation…
From the Acts Scripture this morning we see the Apostles, Peter and John, went Samaria to complete what had already been started. These new converts had received their baptism in the name of Jesus but there was something missing. They needed the Holy Spirit. They went and prayed over them and that was when they received the Advocate and the Counselor…the Spirit of and from God that would teach them and guide them on their way. Fire and water working together to bring the finale of fire that Jesus began on the cross…
Matthew three verses thirteen to seventeen gives us another snapshot of what happens when we are baptized…It reads:
Matthew 3:13-17New International Version (NIV)
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
I like how the Message Bible ends this piece of scripture:
“You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.” In our baptism we too here…You are my son…you are my daughter, you are chosen and marked…I have claimed you and you are mine…the pride of my life…through this water I have marked you with the seal of my Spirit.
The voice of God stating that Jesus was God’s Son and He is well pleased in Him…the voice of God stating that you and me, we are sons and daughters and God is well pleased. The All powerful and infinite God…who as we read in Psalm 29 this morning…whose voice thunders over the waters…who sits over the floods…who gives strength and peace to His people…is well pleased…
Today is the Baptism of the Lord Sunday, the day when we remember not only his life changing baptism but ours as well. Through water we are saved. Through water we are redeemed. Through water we are given a new life. (Walk down the aisle with the Baptismal Bowl and sprinkle the congregation when saying remember your baptism) So when the waters of life seem as if they are about to overtake you…remember your baptism… But now, this is what the Lord says he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; When you feel as if you have no one who really cares in your life…remember your baptism… I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you feel like an outcast in this journey of life…remember your baptism… When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When life has thrown you too many curves and you just can’t take one more…remember your baptism… When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. You have been sealed with love…you have been sealed with power…you have been sealed with grace…you have been sealed by the Spirit. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Remember your baptism…
Prayer Over theWater
Let us pray: Almighty God, the life you birthed in us by baptism into Jesus Christ will never die. Your justice never fails. Your mercy is everlasting. Your healing river flows. Your Spirit blows where you will. We cannot stop you, God!
We are dry and thirsty, O God. Come, refresh us!
Come upon us, Holy Spirit!
Come upon these waters.
Let these waters be to us drops of your mercy.
Let these waters remind us of your righteousness and justice.
Let these waters renew in us the resurrection power of Jesus.
Let these waters make us long for your coming reign.
Most Holy God, Father! Full of Truth and Grace! Glory to you!
Jesus Christ, Savior, Lord! Glory to you!
Spirit of fire, Spirit over the waters, Spirit of holiness! Glory to you!
Eternal God, One in Three and Three in One! All glory is yours, now and forever. Amen!