Post-Sermon Reflection
2010-01-10 by David von Schlichten

For the Baptism of our Lord, I focused on baptism in general. I asked people, "Who are you?" and invited them to contemplate that question. I then explained that central to our identity is baptism, which assures us eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and new intimacy with God. Others may have such blessings, but we are assured of them.

There was no strong response. A few people said that they liked the sermon. One person said, "'Who am I?' I never thought about that before."

Ontologically, I am

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Safiyah and Baptism
2010-01-09 by David von Schlichten

Our guest blogger provided helpful posts, including some meditative poetry, in which Safiyah makes effective use of sun/cloud imagery, as well as water imagery, to help us contemplate anew our identity as the baptized.

I posted my sermon at the cafe, which is on baptism in general and not on Christ's baptism.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





Sermon Synthesis
2010-01-08 by Safiyah Fosua

As I prepare to write this sermon, I am listening for things about the text that have called (or shouted) out to me over the past week.  Isaiah 43’s pass through the waters imagery called out to me first.  It suddenly occurred to me that passing through waters was probably much more intense than strolling through the park. 

Next, I noticed that the texts are full of water and fire.  Isaiah takes us through water and fire.  There are mighty waters and flames of fire in Psalm 29.  Luke’s account of Jesus baptism comes after a warning about the winnowing fork and unquenchable fire.  Christian identity cannot be seen apart from the troubles of the word. 

The last thing that spoke to me was the Voice of the Lord.  The Voice of the Lord figures prominently in the Psalm 29 text.    New Testament followers would think of the voice of the Lord as a fearful or at least awe-inspiring thing.  It was not so easy to hear the jarring words of the bat qol heavenly declaration through first-century ears.  Our warm fuzzy notions about God are quite different from those of first-century culture.  One of the questions I will wrestle with is:  “What does it mean to be claimed and loved by God?”

This sermon begs for strong word pictures that contrast with the soft gentle image of the Holy Spirit’s testimony.





I Remember Your Baptism
2010-01-08 by Safiyah Fosua

One sunny day

We passed you through the waters

Not quite the muddy waters of the Jordon

Or the uncertain waters of the great Flood

But waters none the less.

Waters of a basin intentionally placed

To help us all remember that memories of passing through water

Had something to do with who we are.

 

One sunny day

We poured water over you

In hopes that cloudy days

would not overwhelm you

So that you might possibly be wet enough

To not burn with the chaff

On that Terrible Day to come.

 

We passed you through,

Wondering if the cool water

Jogged memories of the day you were born

Or, if you would come to regard this day

As important as the day that your short shrill cry

Announced your arrival into our world.

 

We passed you through, quickly,

Remembering the Israelites that

Surely stepped lively

With cautious eyes on the pent-up flood

On either side.

 

I promised myself to remember

The day you were baptized,

In case some day you couldn’t

Remember who you were.

 

Safiyah Fosua

 





When God Speaks
2010-01-07 by Safiyah Fosua

Psalm 29

What was it like for those present to hear God speaking from heaven when Jesus was baptized?  Today, I am looking at connections between the gospel and the psalm for this coming Sunday. 

Psalm 29 suggests that hearing God speak was a fearful, awe-inspiring thing.  The God of Psalm 29 is neither meek nor grandfatherly.  Here we see a powerful God whose voice thunders louder than the waters.  God’s is a voice that breaks cedars – even the mighty cedars of Lebanon!  God’s is a voice that shakes the wilderness and strips the forests bare!

Our mental pictures of God are so tame that we may miss the impact of hearing this voice that declared pleasure with the Son of God.  Look at the contrasts.  What could the God of Psalm 29 possibly have in common with the God of the gospel text who spoke from heaven?  If Psalm 29 is any hint of the norm for God-speech, we are not conditioned to hear soothing words from God.  God thunders.  God flashes fire.  God shakes things up. 

Perhaps these words of an adoring father, spoken from heaven were meant to jar those who heard them.  Having Psalm 29 as a backdrop makes the endearing declaration "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased" all the more tender.  There would be many other opportunities for thunder (John 12:29).

Safiyah Fosua

 





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