Finding the Lessons

I try to post well in advance of the upcoming Sunday.

You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.

The blog will be labeled with proper, liturgical date, and calendar date.

You can open the monthly calendar to the left and find the readings in order.

You can also search below by entering the liturgical date, scripture, or proper. This will pull up all previous posts.

Enjoy.

Search This Blog by Proper and Year (ie: Proper 8B or Christmas C or Advent 1A)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B

"The kingdom of God in Mark is good news because it brings liberation at a number of levels. The central thing is enabling people to be how God made them to be."

"First Thoughts on Passages from Mark in the Lectionary," Epiphany 4, William Loader, Murdoch University, Uniting Church in Australia.

Prayer

A Byzantine church was built on top of a synagogue in Capernaum
In Christ your Son, O God, you impart to us a new teaching from one who speaks with authority, for Jesus is the unique master of wisdom, and our only liberator from the forces of evil.  Make us convinced and courageous in professing our faith, so that by word and deed we may proclaim the truth and bear witness to the happiness enjoyed by those who center their lives and put all their trust in you.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 1:21-28

What is unbound in us?  This is the question that I am taking with me into the Gospel reading from Mark appointed for this Sunday.

This is a very dense and important passage. The author of the Gospel is very much laying a firm foundation upon which he is building his revelation of who Jesus was and the import of his mission in this world and in the world to come. 

First, let me caution the reader and preacher against taking this simply as a story about healing.  I think this is an important caution as there are people in our congregations who are prone to seizures and epilepsy.  They, like their loved ones, are very wounded by preaching on this lesson that does not embody Good News for all people.  We as pastors and leaders should not do anything in our teaching or in our preaching that implies that these people are filled with some demonic spirit when what we know is that they are ill.  In point of fact to say that this story is solely about healing and the casting out of demons from a person is to miss a great deal of what is going on in the passage and in the entirety of the Gospel according to Mark. 

Is this a story about healing? Yes, by all means it is.  But what is it that we are being healed from? What is it that is being unbound in us? How and for what are we being freed? These are the questions that must be answered as you prepare your sermon for Sunday.

A couple of things to note: First is that this passage parallels the passage in Mark 5:1-20; wherein Jesus heals the Gerasene demoniac.  It parallels the passage EXACTLY.  The difference is that this passage takes place in the midst of the Jewish community and the passage in chapter 5 takes place in the midst of the gentile community.

The second note is that the community of Mark was indeed a community oppressed on every side.  Joel Marcus writes:

For Mark's community, which feels itself to be the focus of the hatred of the whole world because of its preaching of the good news about Jesus (13:9-13), this feature of the initial exorcism would function as a reassurance that eh world's reaction of convulsive hatred does not invalidate the community's claim that its preaching imparts God's eschatological message. (Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 195)
In keeping with most of the scholarly perspectives around this passage, it is my opinion that Mark's community feels bombarded by hatred from both the religious leaders of the day and the political leaders of the day.  As the passage in chapter 5 reflects the political attacks and adversity to the Jesus message; so here in our passage for this Sunday we can see the attack from the religious leaders of the day.

Let us look at the passage closely.We remember that John the Baptist is now faded to the background. Jesus is taking up his full teaching mission. He is calling people to follow him and he is proclaiming absolutely good news of God and the kingdom of God.  We find ourselves then in this Sunday's passage following him into a major center of religious life - Capernaum.  It is the sabbath and so he goes and he teaches in the synagogue.

They are astounded at his teaching in part because his teaching is good news but also because he teaches with authority.  This kind of teaching is different than the leaders of religion that they normally hear from.

As if to sharpen the distinction between the different messages and preaching a force enters the synagogue.  Characterized in a demon possessed man, this force challenges Jesus' teaching.  This is essential. We can get caught up in the demon part and not realize that the dialogue here is of the utmost importance. The man says, in the midst of this religious center filled with people:

24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
We might remember that the earliest manuscripts had no punctuation so that these may not be questions at all.  We might read this as:  What are you doing. Why are you teaching here. This is not good. You have come to destroy us.  And, yet too in the enmity cast on Jesus (and for Mark's community anyone who is proclaiming Jesus as Lord) we see a recognition and proclamation of Jesus as son of God - the Holy One of God.  Let us also remember the rest of the story and how these same religious authorities will decry Jesus' ministry and that of his followers.

Jesus unbinds the man from his rejection of the Gospel and his preaching.

The response to this is that people are amazed. Amazed at the freedom to believe? Amazed at the revelation of Jesus as Holy One? Amazed at his power over and against the religious authorities? "Yes," I say.  All of these and there is in verse 27 a recognition that this is a new teaching and one that comes from God. The response of the people is one that affirms Jesus as preacher and teacher of this new movement. He is bringing reform to an old way. He is in fact leading a new way of being disciples of God.

I am currently reading the Bonhoeffer biography by Metaxis.  In it the author makes a persuasive case that Bonhoeffer while on the one hand believed in the importance of Christian community he also recognized the reforming nature of Jesus' words and ministry upon a Christianity that was simply religious.

Yes, people who trust in Jesus do experience healing of life. I have seen it. I know it is true.  But the passage for this Sunday is about the reform of religion. The Gospel of Jesus Christ challenges all Christians and their communities to remember the Holy One of God and the Good News of Salvation at the core of its life. It challenges Christian communities to boldly proclaim the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.  It challenges Christian community hear the absolute and grace filled message of love. 

I want to take a moment and ask you to think about your religion. Now I am not talking about your denomination. I am not talking about your church. I am talking about your personal religion? I am wondering if you might make a list of certain things that are required for you when you go to church. Only men as priests or women as priests, incense or no incense, lots of vestments or no vestments, Rite One language or Rite II language or non gender specific language, ancient hymnody in Latin or guitars... I can tell you these are not requirements of Jesus. None of these are mentioned in his teachings.  Yet people are constantly at war over these or other lists of required religious iconography in order for the true gospel to be preached.  The Gospel is there every Sunday and Jesus is present but I wonder what shackles we bring into church that keep us from hearing it and proclaiming it.

Let us think of our own church now.  As a church embattled in structure and economy, in a church struggling with the different orders of ministry and asking questions about how we do our mission, we must hold the mirror of Mark's Gospel up and ask some serious questions about reform.  Has the religion become more important than the message? Is the benefit of Christian community lost in the chaos of a faith at war with itself? 

As Christians, as Episcopalians, we are imprisoned by our religion.

Jesus Christ comes into our midst. He comes right down into the center of every congregation this Sunday.  He challenges us to teach our faith with authority. To boldly claim the Holy One of God as our own.  To proclaim that God is love and that we are to love one another. We are challenged to teach our response to that love is mission.

Jesus comes in and this Sunday looks at our heart's religion and he seeks to free us from it.  Jesus offers us unbounded love, free from the shackles of our inherited religion, and challenges us to be at work in the mission field.

I am an Episcopalian and I love being an Episcopalian and I want other people to meet Jesus in our church and worship him as Episcopalians. To do that we must be freed from our heart's religion and our church's religion that says it is my way or the highway. We must be freed and unbound from those ties that bind us to a certain death that our faith and our communities may be part of the kingdom that is coming.

And, like the demoniac in that synagogue and the religious leaders of Jesus time you and I both know our religious heart and our puritanical faith rejects this invitation be to be free.

Jesus keeps coming though.  Again and again he invites us along the way just like his disciples and those he first goes to in Capernaum.  He invites us to allow those parts of ourselves that do not glorify God to fall to the wayside, and invites us to be freed for mission.  We are invited to live lives in communities where the Holy One of God is present and alive and proclaimed.  He invites us most of all to change the nature of our dying religion, that all that are around us (in our neighborhoods and cities) might be amazed at our proclamation of freedom and our teaching with authority -- the unbounded love of Jesus and the freedom to lay our religious shackles down and follow him.



A Little Bit for Everyone




Mark 1:21-28

21They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Third Sunday after the Epiphany year B

"The two verbs in the second part of Jesus' proclamation are present tense imperatives. That implies continued or repeated actions. "Keep on repenting!" "Keep on believing." Repent and believe are not like a door that we pass through once, e.g., I repented and I believed, so now I'm in the kingdom. Rather they are part of an ongoing lifestyle of the people to whom the rule of God has come near."
Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen, at Crossmarks.

Prayer

In your Son, O God, you have given us your word in all its fullness and the greatest of all your gifts.  Rouse our hearts to grasp the urgent need of conversion, and stir up our souls with longing to embrace your gospel.  May our lives proclaim to those far away from you and to those filled with doubt that the one Savior of us all is your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.




Some Thoughts on Mark 1:14-20

We begin this passage as Mark clearly breaks from the testimony of John the Baptist and focuses directly on the work of Jesus.  Jesus is now the focal point of the Gospel and of Mark's witness.

A second theme emerges directly as Galilee. We are beginning to read Mark more regularly in this year's cycle of Gospel readings.  In Mark's Gospel Galilee is the "land of salvation" while it is contrasted throughout the story with Jerusalem; which is the place of rejection. (This was pointed out by such great New Testament scholars as Lohmeyer and Lightfoot; and has been repeated throughout most Markan commentaries.)  In Galilee great and miraculous things happen.  Healings, exorcisms, teaching, and the growth of the Jesus movement all hallmark Galilee as the place of salvation.  Mark as a Gospel author so focuses on this theme that it is the primary and driving force behind his confused geography. For the Gospel author the story and miraculous works are more important than factual place.

In our passage, John is handed over, Jesus comes from Galilee, and he proclaims "good news."  I love Mark's Gospel and I have studied it quite a bit.  What stood out for me in this reading is Joel Marcus' point that this is "good news" really stood out. In his exegesis of the text (Marcus, Mark, vol 1, 171) Marcus points out that the word "God" and "kingdom of God" were later added and not necessarily part of the early Christian witness to Jesus' ministry.  Marcus even reminds us that John's Gospel does not even use the term "euangelion," or Good News. This is Good News! It is not good news +; or good news but.  The early Christian testimony preserved in Mark's account is that what we have is Good News.

Then Jesus teaches our response.  Our response to the Good News that God is near, that God claims us, that God reinserts himself into the world, that God invites our relationship is to discover that we are in a new age of God; we are now in an age of the kingdom or dominion of God...our response is repentance and belief.

What seems very inspiring here is the notion that this is not a one time event. We are not to repent and believe; but rather we are to live a life of repenting and believing.  These words of good news and repenting/believing are words that would have resounded in the ears of the newly baptized Christian.  They are words deeply connected with the earliest Christian tradition.  We are a people who recognize our relationship with God; we celebrate the grace of God and the goodness of God. We then are constantly responding attempting to glorify God in this world by moving our lives closer and closer to the life of God.

We are a people who are not satisfied with the old age or the past; we are a people who want to come ever closer to God's kingdom. We are a people not satisfied with the world as we experience it for we know that when we try and work and repent and move ever closer God's love and grace transforms us and the world around us. It does this through kindness, charity, and good works.  This is the center of living a life virtuously.  The virtuous life is one that is constantly trying to remove the old and dead life; letting it fall away.  And, consequently attempting to live a life where belief matters and affects how I am going to act in the next moment.

This opening reading from Mark's Gospel would have reminded the first hearers of the first moments when they followed Jesus. (Marcus, 176)  As we read it today and think about our words for Sunday morning we must recognize that we have the opportunity to stir up and reinvigorate our discipleship. We have the opportunity to see again for the fist time what it means to turn and follow Jesus. 

Good News of our salvation and the unique proclamation of God's kingdom and our invitation to be a part is good news indeed!



A Little Bit for Everyone




Mark 1:14-20

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Second Sunday after Epiphany


"I believe the keys in understanding this passage are, on the one hand, to NOT treat it as simply a story of how Nathaniel met Jesus; nor, on the other hand, to get all mystical and obscure. John wants us to SEE Jesus, to COME to him, and thereby to receive LIFE in its abundance."
Holy Textures, Understanding the Bible in its own time and in ours, John 1:43-51, David Ewart, 2012.

Prayer

O God, you reveal the signs of your presence among us in the church, in the liturgy and in our brothers and sisters.  Let no word of yours ever fall by the wayside or be rendered ineffective through our indifference or neglect.  Rather, make us quick to recognize your saving plan whenever we encounter it, and keep us ready always to serve as prophets and apostles of your kingdom.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts on John 1:43-51
This week we shift across to one of our Johanine readings for the year.  The passages in John's Gospel, according to most scholars, follow a carefully crafted narrative that steers people away from the proclamation of John the Baptist and towards the revelation of Jesus. 
The passage also refers to the calling of the two disciples.  In reading the whole account you can see that they bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah - the "Son of Man."  In this theme we have the notion of the promised king of Israel being presented in the holy titles being used.  At the same time the competing notion that such a vision of Jesus' ministry is all too narrow.

Another theme has to do with the calling of the disciples.  The image of Philip and Nathaniel who being seen by Jesus, were called by him, and then the blessings of life as they do so.  Moreover, their own witness to Jesus as the "Son of Man."  Seeing and proclaiming who he is and revealing to the world that this is the one to come and see.

Now what has most intrigued me about this passage comes from Raymond Brown's text on John (vol 1, 59ff). And that is the images that are being linked to this story from ancient Israel's story.  Brown illustrates well, I think, that Jesus in the story is connected to the image of Jacob's ladder (shekinah), the image of the divine chariot (merkabah) of Ezekiel, Bethel itself, or the rock (the first rock God created upon which Jacob laid his head).  What a wonderful set of traditions; none of which in and of themselves are completely convincing scholastically.  Nevertheless, I love them!

What really resonates with me as I hold in tension the symbols floating in the text and the movement away from John the Baptist combined with the "seeing" imagery of Philip and Nathaniel is that we have quite a wonderful passage about Jesus as the center of Christian life and discipleship.  Jesus is central and he is out in the world for us to see.

What I thought is that we preachers spend a lot of time telling folks we don't see Jesus.  Think about that for a moment. We tell them we don't see Jesus in their actions, in their spending, in their lives. We don't see Jesus in the church. We don't see Jesus in the world. We don't see Jesus here and we don't see Jesus there. Think about the last 10 sermons you gave and I wonder how many of them spent time telling people how we don't see Jesus.

In fact I wonder if the amount of preaching about not seeing Jesus in people's lives has to do with the numbers of people who don't want to listen to us preach about not seeing Jesus and so don't come to church.

What if this Sunday we actually told our Episcopalians and those who might be visiting with us that we see Jesus? We see Jesus in them. We see Jesus in their lives and in their stories. We see Jesus out in the world. What if we made a concerted effort this Sunday to not give "Bad News" and we tried to avoid telling people how we don't see Jesus?  What if this Sunday we gave them "Good News?"

What if this Sunday we preachers were solidly about seeing Jesus Christ out in the world?  If we like Philip and Nathaniel were able to tell our neighbors, brothers, sisters, and fellow church goers that we see Jesus and we want them to see Jesus too?

It would be news if we and our church goers left our churches and went looking for Jesus out in the world and found him in places, images, and things like rocks and said, "Look here is God out in the world. Here is how God connects us. We call this connection to the most high God - Jesus."  Generous and holy naming would become our work out in the world and people would hear from us a new story; perhaps a story they have been longing to hear.   

Our work as evangelists is not sitting around waiting for people to come into our churches and ask us to show them Jesus; then in some theological discourse of via negativa telling them where we don't see Jesus.  Or even worse, preaching to them about how they aren't doing it right and how we don't see Jesus at all in their lives and in the world. 

Our work is to go out and generously listen, generously name Jesus in the lives of others, and generously invite people to come and see the good news as proclaimed in our Episcopal Church. 

I wonder if we might together, as preachers and parishioners, promise that for the next month we are going to take on as our Epiphany discipline the work of seeing and announcing Jesus to those around us; and that we would do that with positive and affirming statements.


A Little Bit for Everyone




John 1:43-51

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

The first Sunday after the Epiphany

Chinese artist He Qi depicts the baptism of Jesus.

"Baptize me, who am destined to baptize those who believe on me with water, and with the Spirit, and with fire: with water, capable of washing away the defilement of sins; with the Spirit, capable of making the earthly spiritual; with fire, naturally fitted to consume the thorns of transgressions. On hearing these words, the Baptist directed his mind to the object of the salvation, and comprehended the mystery which he had received, and discharged the divine command; for he was at once pious and ready to obey."

"On the Holy Theophany Or On Christ's Baptism," (4th of Four Homilies) by Gregory Thaumaturgus (3rd century).

Prayer

Lord our God, O Holy One of Israel, to the waters you call all those who thirst, to the feast of your covenant you invite all the nations.  As once at the Jordan your Spirit tore open the heavens, and your voice proclaimed Jesus your well-beloved sons and daughters; lead us by your Spirit through the water and the blood, that our love for you may strengthen us to obey your commandments, and our love for one another be the victory that forever conquers the world.  We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.


Some Thoughts on Mark 1:4-11
We are now heading into the season which follows the Episcopal Church's celebration of Epiphany.  The first Sunday after Epiphany is traditionally the Baptism of our Lord, and the reading is taken from the Gospel for that year. As such then we see that the baptism narrative is taken from the Gospel of Mark. It actually has three parts to it. The first part is the preaching of John.  The second part is the baptism itself. The third portion is Jesus' vision.

The beginning of our reading today falls in the very earliest of passages in Mark's Gospel and it includes the tail end of John's preaching and flows easily into the baptism of Jesus.  John the Baptist is preaching that the "strong man" is coming.  The combination of Greek words and how Mark opens his narrative make it unmistakeably clear that Jesus is the eschatological (end time) figure that Israel has been waiting to arrive. John's ministry has been to prepare the people and to be a moniker of the signalling the Lord's arrival.  In language and clothing he appears as a voice heralding a new time and a new mission. (You might refer to the post for the second Sunday of Advent to read more about this part of our passage.  You may also want to read Joel Marcus' work on Mark, page 163, specifically.)

The baptism of Jesus implies that perhaps Jesus was a follower of John the baptist. Such ideas and wrestlings with who baptizes who are age old and should not take away from the idea that the incarnation, God in human form, comes and is present with us and that he himself is baptized.  I find myself drawn less to the idea of authority and whose student was whose and ever more closely invited to see that as John proclaimed there is a new Way being formed. There is a new structure to the world being made.  Jesus and his baptism, like our own baptism is a part of that structure.

The action takes place on the edges of society, in the wilderness, not in the safety of sacred space. And, the act itself challenges us to ask were are we as a church doing the work of baptism?  Where are we doing the work of heralding a new structure and a new Way to the world? Are we locked away where only a few can hear or are we out in the world, on the edges, inviting and encouraging people to see that there is a different way a new and every revealed way of being the kingdom of God?

The third part of the narrative today, following the proclamation and baptism, is the vision.  Reading through the scriptures we might remember or rediscover Isaiah 64:1-2:

Oh that you would tear the heavens open and come down
to make known your name to your enemies,
and make the nations tremble at your presence,
working unexpected miracles
such as no one has ever heard before.
The images that are before us also remind us (I think intentionally) of the deliverance of Israel from the army of Pharaoh through the waters of the Red Sea.  Certainly, this is part of our own baptismal liturgy.  But we know what is coming next... Jesus is to go into the desert wilderness for a time of temptation. 

The baptism is the launching of Jesus' ministry. It is the first corner stone of the new structure. It is the first step along the way for every Christian.  It is a movement through the waters from sin and imprisonment to freedom and life eternal.  There is another image here which is rooted in scripture and repeated in our baptismal formula and that is the death of Jesus on the cross.
Like bookends the beginning of the Gospel offers a vision of the end, wherein here at the baptism the heavens are ripped apart, the spirit descends, and God pronounces that this is his Son.  We can compare this to the temple curtain which is ripped apart, Jesus breathing his spirit out, and the centurion making his proclamation. (Donald Juel, Mark, 34-35)  Just as Jesus is baptized here in the waters of the Jordan so does every Christian man, woman and child find their baptism at the cross of Christ.
Today as you look out over your congregation you will see a group of people who more than likely believe that the government is not way it was meant to work, that power rests in the hands of the most wealthy people in the country, and that the current state of politics promises no change. They sit there also with the knowledge that they work hard and help their community and their neighbors; as do most Christians which Pew research says make up the majority of those who give time and treasure for this work.  They are also worried about their future economically and they are concerned about who will take care of them. The holidays are over.  Many have returned from vacation needing a vacation and the promises of what the shopping season promised are not what they expected.

It is a lie to pretend that our world mirrors the wilderness world in which John made his proclamation or Jesus was baptized.  We live lives in the Episcopal Church that are foreign to most of the people in the rest of the world.  It seems to me there are two very real places though in this gospel that hit right in the heart of where most folks are.  The Gospel today recognizes that the world is not the kingdom of God and a new time is before us in this instance to turn, change, and make things different.  We are the inheritors of God's vision and we are the ones who by walking the Way of Jesus make so transform the world around us that we shall in the days to come experience something new and different.  We are a part of this building, Jesus is the cornerstone and we are the living stones being built up into the kingdom of God.

The second thing is this. In a world where not belonging is the norm and secret boundaries divide people clarity about living in the family of God and how you become a member is Good News.  Most places you will not be told how to belong. Most places you will not have the opportunity to be invited to be a part.  The "in" crowd is small and not many people are sharing the secret entrance rites.  But in the family of God everyone is a member.  In fact the moment a person recognizes the Grace of God moving in their lives they are "in."  Baptism is the public rite of initiation which reminds them and the church that they are already God's sacred possession. They are God's sons or daughters, they are God's beloved, they are the ones upon whom Jesus breathed the breath of life and for whom Jesus died on the cross.  Baptism is the clear sign that reminds us (not God) that we are his people and the sheep of his hand.

That my friend in the wilderness of this world is VERY Good News.


A Little Bit for Everyone




4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:4-11