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

 





"Lectionary Homiletics" Highlight
2010-01-07 by David von Schlichten

Be sure to enjoy the posts from our guest blogger. Scroll down and dive in.

"A Sermon: Baptized in Spirit"

Daniel S. Clark reminds us that the Samaritans being believers in Jesus Christ is shocking because these people were despised by the Jewish community of Jesus' world. He goes on to talk about the importance of being baptized in the Spirit. The water-baptism is important, but the Spirit-baptism tends to be overlooked by many of us mainline Protestants.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator





When you pass through the waters...
2010-01-06 by Safiyah Fosua

Isaiah 43: 1-2, 5

 

A large evangelism conference is taking place in New Orleans this week.  The last time they tried to meet in N’Orleans their plans were interrupted by Hurricane Katrina so it is quite natural that many are making mental notes about the progress of the city coming back online – so to speak.   

The city is slowly coming back to life.  Certainly, New Orleans is a different city now.  How could it not be affected permanently by such a large-scale loss of lives and such permanent changes in its cityscape?  More than a thousand people perished and much of the city was swept away – but they were not completely consumed!  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. I had so focused on the raging waters and their losses that I almost missed it. They were not consumed.

 I see a very hard-to-hear message in this part of the text.  Some think of this beloved passage in Isaiah as a promise that calamity cannot touch us leading to false notions about Christianity making us invincible.  When I read the text in the shadow of Katrina, I see something signficantly different. Floods may come; devastations like fire may also come -- but we will be resilient.  Why?  Because we belong to God and the God who has called us by name and claimed us also walks with us. You are mine!

Could it be said that we are passing through waters right now?  The entire country is more anxious than I can remember and so much about the future feels fragile.  As the nation begins to recover, we can certainly expect, like New Orleans, that we will long bear the indelible marks of this experience.  But, reading Isaiah, I am reminded that one very important thing for us to remember on this Baptism of the Lord Sunday is that God has laid claim on us, and walks with us.

Safiyah Fosua, GBOD-UMC





Who are You?
2010-01-05 by Stephen Schuette

Actions speak louder than words.  That’s a good aphorism for us in the protestant traditions to remember to at least balance what can be our tendency toward “wordiness.”

The physical and concrete meets the spiritual in the sacrament.  In that way, it just seems natural that the baptism should be the first Sunday in Epiphany, following Christmastide.  The identity of Jesus has been shown in symbolic terms through the Christmas story.  Mary has been pondering “these things” about her Son.  But in baptism there is a spirit and a voice that make that identity plain.

Identity…  Saw the movie Up in the Air last night and the line is repeatedly asked of Ryan (Clouney) by nearly every other character in the movie:  “Who are you?”  For Ryan he is a traveler who touches down for short periods to be back in the air, earning frequent flyer miles.  He is a mover without commitment, with an empty backpack, with fleeting relationships.  Like Updike’s Rabbit, the center, the purpose is missing.

“Who are you?” is not just the question answered in baptism about Jesus.  Through faith, it is a question that is given an answer for us.  We are named, claimed, baptized into Jesus Christ.  There is purpose and commitment and direction.  It is our grounding in community with one another and our calling.

Here’s an opportunity to consider more than just talking about it.  People can be reminded of their baptism in concrete ways.  Feel the water in the face as it is sprinkled from a palm branch.

Who are you?  How do you identify yourself?  A career?  A family member?  A golfer or sports fan or hobbyist of some sort?  You are more!  You are baptized into Jesus Christ!





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