Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….
The season of Lent is here again and, as with so many times before, we find that we are not really ready for this journey of discipleship. So many things claim our lives and prevent us from being ready to take the steps in faith. As we look at our barrier of readiness, help us to remember that Christ is with us, every step of the way. We are not alone. Christ will help lift our hearts and spirits and direct our paths. Enable us, loving Savior, to take this journey of faith to new life with you. AMEN.
let us begin today’s worship
Call to Worship (Psalm 111)
L: Send the waters of your grace upon us.
P: We are your people.
L: Let the waters of your love wash us.
P: We are your forgiven people.
L: Let the waters of your blessing pour over us.
P: We are your beloved people.
Thanks be to God.
Lord, who throughout these Forty Days
1 Lord, who throughout these forty days
for us did fast and pray,
teach us with you to mourn our sins
and close by you to stay.
2 As you with Satan did contend,
and did the victory win,
O give us strength in you to fight,
in you to conquer sin.
3 As you did hunger and did thirst,
so teach us, gracious Lord,
to die to self, and so to live
by your most holy Word.
4 And through these days of penitence,
and through your Passiontide,
forevermore, in life and death,
O Lord, with us a bide.
5 Abide with us, that when this life
of suffering is past,
an Easter of unending joy
we may attain at last!!
The Baptism of Jesus
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
The word of God for the people of God!
Thanks be to God!
Sermon: a dive into the baptism
Well here we are the first Sunday of lent and we are reading Jesus’ baptism story again. This time I believe we will dive in a little deeper.
“It is problematic to compare Jesus’ baptism with that of the people coming to be baptized by John. This action betrays a relationship of superior to inferior, of teacher to disciple, which places Jesus in a subordinate relationship with John.” Now we proclaim Jesus the son of God and part of the trinity that are three of God and yet all of God. So how could he possibly subordinate to John?
“It has long been held by many scholars that, just as all the others of those baptized by John became his disciples, so Jesus began his ministry as a disciple of John. While it is often argued that Jesus achieved his messianic consciousness only because of the influence of the Baptist, we need not take that extreme. If Jesus did begin as John’s disciple, we could argue that he did so within his role as the Servant, that Jesus as a righteous human being would do the required righteous deed in aligning himself with God’s prophet for his time, and that discipleship under John would guarantee that Jesus would be seen as being in harmony with John’s teaching and in fact extending John’s message to its fulfilment”
That would address another problem people often see in the baptism of Jesus which is the nature of baptism itself. If we believe in “baptism as repentance for the forgiveness of sins. What did Jesus have to repent of? What sins did he have to confess? It has been suggested that the people coming to be baptized were simply expressing their readiness for the promised kingdom of God. Their repentance and confession pertain to social sins, not innate, personal ones, for which they had a recourse through the Temple rites. It was an admission that they had somehow participated in a system of oppression and that now they were ready to change in preparation for God’s reign.
The baptism, then, was a visible sign of that attitude. If that was the case, then it was natural for Jesus to identify with this popular movement and do the same. Granted that this makes some people uncomfortable, it is the only honest reading that the text affords.
Herman Waetjen has suggested that Jesus was baptized into the Jordan (eis), rather than in the Jordan (en), as happened to the people in verse 5. The Jews from Judea and Jerusalem were not submerged in the river; that is, they did not submit to the full depth of John’s baptism. But Jesus did. He completely renounced the old order and proved to be a more genuine disciple than the others.”
In Jesus’ baptism there is a proclamation. In the action itself, Jesus is aligned with the new order. The new way of being and acting in the world, fully and completely. No sooner does this happen and the heavens are torn apart.
“The tearing of the heavens (sjizomenous) parallels the tearing of the veil in Mark 15. The Gospel writer is using it to show that the Spirit is available again. The heavens have been ripped open. In 15:38 it is the veil that separated the people from God’s presence which is torn apart (esjizthe). Now the way to God is open for everyone. The purpose of these two verses was to call attention to what was included between them: Jesus’ ministry. The first, 1:10, signals the beginning; the second, 15:38, its end.”
There is life in these tearings. The boundaries between God and man are blurred in Jesus. What was proclaimed in Genesis that we are created in the image of God, now is God with us, Emmanuel.
“In the baptism, the Spirit comes from above and goes into (eis) Jesus, filling him. That is why the Baptist says that the one coming after him “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (1:8). He is not a prophet temporarily anointed with the Spirit but rather one in which the Spirit lives permanently. That makes a huge difference between a traditional prophet and Jesus, something corroborated by the voice from heaven in verse 11.
In Mark’s narrative, the voice from heaven fulfills the purpose of identifying Jesus’ origin: he might come from Nazareth, a place of low honor, but he is God’s son. Jesus’ honor is ascribed; that is, granted by someone in a powerful and honorable position, in this case the God of Israel. The divine voice makes an astonishing affirmation: “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.” It is a composite citation from Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1, among other passages, and it comes for Jesus’ and the readers’ benefit, not for those witnessing the event (compare it with Matthew 3:17).
The expression “my Son, the Beloved” does not have a capital initial, as in most modern translations, since the original Greek was all written in capital letters. It denotes the translator’s bias, who believes Jesus to be the Son of God in an ontological sense. But the idea here is more relational. Jesus is the favorite son of God, the one God has chosen to accomplish the task that the evangelist is about to tell the reader. It shows God’s partiality and preference. It also shows some rivalry with his teacher John. It basically says that God has chosen the disciple over the teacher!”
There is an interesting amount of movement in mark. As stated above from disciple to teacher. The story moves quickly from John Proclaiming a Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and announcing “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1; 7-8)
Dr. Cameron Jorgenson who teaches theology and ethics at Campbell University Divinity School tells us that after John Proclaims One greater than I is coming, “Then something unusual happens. The “one who was to come” does come; Jesus goes out to John and requests baptism as well. When Jesus comes up from the water, the heavens are torn open, the voice of God speaks a blessing, and the Spirit descends on him like a dove” This is where we first see the Trinity Creator, who tears open the heavens, Jesus the begotten one and the holy spirit descending in the form of a dove.
This is a very abrupt and intense story everything is happening with an urgency. John Appears in the desert, John Proclaims and Baptizes, Jesus arrives and is baptized. Interesting there is no dialogue between John and Jesus, just then the heavens are torn apart and the dove arrives.
Now what happens next, Jesus’ testing or wilderness experience is important according to Walter Bruggeman. “Four separate statements make up mark 1:12-13each of which begins with the conjunction ‘and,’ although the NSRV obscures the conjunction at the beginning of v13:
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.
[And] He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan;
And he was with the wild beasts;
And the angels waited on him.
Each of these statements either explicitly or implicitly involves the wilderness themes, suggesting that it is the wilderness setting rather than the temptation as such that interests mark.
The first statement comes as a surprise. It dramatically depicts the spirit, who has just descended upon Jesus as a dove (1:10), now driving Jesus out into the wilderness. Translators and commentators sometimes try to soften this picture , but the verb used here is the same one later used of Jesus casting out demons, suggesting that real force is involved (as, for example, 1:34, 39; 3:15, 6:13). Of course…(Marks) Concern is for the necessity of Jesus’ going out into the wilderness. Already the wilderness has served as an important location for John the Baptist, and Jesus himself must go there.
The second statement combines the reference to forty days with Jesus' temptation by Satan. The number forty, of course, calls to mind several important biblical stories, such as the duration of the flood (Gen. 7:4, 12, 17), the wilderness years of Israel (Ex. 16:35; Deut. 2:7), and the flight of Elijah (1 Kings 19:4-8), in all of which stories the preservation of life in the midst of danger is a crucial issue. Satan's presence emphasizes the threat to life implicit in being in the wilderness for forty days. Because Matthew and Luke provide elaborate stories of Jesus' temptations, the natural tendency is to focus on this statement to the exclusion of the other three, and to read specific temptations into this account as well. Mark, by contrast, seems content with suggesting rather than itemizing those temptations. That Jesus is not overthrown by Satan is obvious from the narrative that follows.
The wild beasts of the third statement, of course, call to mind various biblical passages that promise God's protection from wild beasts, such as Job 5:22-23; Ps. 91:13; Isa. 11:6-9. That Jesus is "with the wild beasts" and emerges unscathed indicates the divine protection afforded him.( also would say it lifts the vision of the garden of Eden where man and beast lived in harmony) Indirect reference to that divine protection comes in the fourth statement, "and the angels waited on him." The verb used here, diakonoun, is that used elsewhere for serving or ministering (for example, Mark 1:31; 10:45; 15:41).
As a whole, this scene concisely portrays both the danger of the wilderness and the protection of Jesus as God's son. The period of forty days, with its obvious peril to physical life, and the temptation of Satan, threaten Jesus. That he dwells safely with wild animals and is waited on by angels conveys that he will emerge safely from this danger. In 1:3-4, the wilderness was the location of revelation. Here the wilderness becomes the location of danger. Later in Mark, the wilderness, having been tamed, becomes Jesus' place of retreat from the crowds and from the misunderstandings that press upon him (1:35, 45; 6:31-32, 35).”
as I was researching Wilderness and our spiritual connection to the wilder places I discovered John Lionberger who works on;
“going into the wilderness to experience the presence of God. John Lionberger is a former atheist who had a profound religious experience on a wilderness trip. Now an ordained United Church of Christ minister, Lionberger leads others looking for their own experience of the holy. Lionberger is the author of “Renewal in the Wilderness.” He lives in Evanston, Illinois.” When asked what happens to people when he takes them to the wilderness Rev. John says; “What they encounter in the wilderness is getting away from all of the things in society that we call “trappings” that are meant to be good things, but that keep them away from a more authentic and deeper relationship with God…. I think what happens for them is they get to the transcendent through the physical—the act of canoeing, the act of setting up camp. I like to say it strips them of the barnacles that they accrue throughout their lives and society, and they begin to realize how little they need to be profoundly happy. They are able to simplify, and in that simplification they get a sense of something holy about what surrounds them, a sense of wellbeing and a sense of being cared for and a sense of profound peace, and it’s kind of a hackneyed phrase—“Be in the moment”—but there is something so powerful about it, because that is the moment, in the very present is when God comes to us. It is much easier, I think, for God to get through our defenses when we’re in a wilderness.”
“The season of Lent has its ancient roots in the story of Jesus’s wilderness journey at the beginning of his ministry. A time of struggle, perseverance, trial, and transformation. During this season in the wild, Jesus was formed and forged for all the ministry that was to come.
Lent is a time of fresh starts and wilderness growth for all who dare to accept the Spirit's invitation to surrender into this holy season. We are offered the opportunity to seek clarity on a particular question that’s been nagging us deep in our bones. Others will use this time as space for clearing aside the underbrush which can choke new growth - whittling away the extraneous to focus on what matters most. Lenten practices might include cutting out the extra chatter in our lives or listening more intently to the voices which give life. Some of us will choose to abstain from something during this season while others might choose to add a new practice to our daily routine.
There is not a singular, “right” way to do Lent. There is only the invitation to step into the wilderness.
We don’t necessarily know what will happen to us during our time out there in the wild. The stars overhead at night can be beautiful, but as the chill of evening sets in we might also start to feel worried or afraid. Gazing at the horizon, we put one foot in front of the other even though we’re not sure exactly where we’re headed.
In Lent, the journey itself is often the destination.
But we go forth into this season in confidence. Confident that if we surrender ourselves to the wide open spaces the Spirit will move within and among us, bringing new light and life as the days lengthen. Confident that we are not alone. We journey into the wild places with fellow travelers of The Way. We go, also, with the assurance that there is no place too wild or barren for God’s accompaniment. We travel into the wilderness with Christ as our model, knowing that if the wilderness was good enough for him….well, surely it holds promises for us, as well.
Let go. Surrender. Make a bold (or tentative) movement into the wilderness. Jesus is waiting for us in the desert places, the wide-open spaces, the wild.” Amen.
Loving, Creating God, you are in covenant with your people. Be with us as we recall all the ways you have made your presence known to us this week. You have pledged to be our God and ask us to be your people, trusting in you in all our ways. But we find many excuses to prevent us from really trusting you. We erect barriers before our faith journey even begins. Our time, obligations, energy, all become part of the bricks and mortar which fashion this barrier. We can give lip service to the journey; we can daydream about what it would be like to truly place our hands in yours and follow you. But when it comes to actually making the journey, our time constraints and weak commitments loom largely before us. Help us to tear down this barrier. Make us ready for the journey by replacing the fear in our hearts with a sense of joy and challenge of self-discovery and discipleship. Remind us that in service to you, helping others, we will also find ourselves made more fully whole. As we write down the names of our friends, and family members, and others situations in which healing and comfort are needed, let us remember that we, too, stand in need of prayer and healing. Make us ready to receive your good news and then to be witnesses to your love to all your people. AMEN.
Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn
O Love that will not let me Go
Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us
Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
Invitation to the Offering
We can say with Jesus today, “Here comes God’s kingdom!...Trust this good news!” Because we trust the power and love of God, and we live into God’s kingdom, let us give the gifts of our lives to God, including the pieces of our lives for God to transform. May our gifts announce God’s inbreaking kingdom, transforming us.
Because you are the God who saves us,
we give you these gifts.
Take our lives and our gifts
and use them to save our world.
We put our hope in you. Amen.
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry
I am available for one on one virtual visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again one day, but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat, check in
In the midst of new Dimensions #391
Lord, we have listened to your word for us this day. We are grateful for the love of Jesus who takes our burdens and lightens our spirits. Be with us today as we leave this place. May we continue to place our trust in you, for it is in the name of Jesus that we pray. AMEN.
Jesus comes to us, offering healing and hope, speaking and acting with authority. Listen to him. Go into this world, confident in God’s love and healing power. Go in peace and may God’s love and peace always be with you. AMEN.