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First Sunday after Epiphany 



Texts & Discussion:
Isaiah 42:1-9
Psalm 29
Acts 10:34-43
Matthew 3:13-17


This Week's Themes:
Meaning of Baptism
Revelation of Christ

Empowerment for Ministry

 Video / Powerpoint Presentation: "Born of Water and the Spirit" 

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 The Lord's Baptism

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Sermon Excerpt:

With Jesus I can Make It”
based on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22; Isaiah 43:1-7
by Rev. Ralph Miller

21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

            During Jesus’ baptismal prayer, the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice from heaven (presumably God the Father’s) said to him, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure nothing that dramatic happened at my baptism.  At least my parents never mentioned anything about it, and I think they probably would have.  And I know nothing like that has ever happened at any of the baptisms I’ve done as a minister.  Things like that just don’t seem to happen anymore.  At Jesus’ baptism, there was no question whether it ‘took’ or not.  He got almost immediate assurance that it did.  Not so for the rest of us.  We’re left to wonder, especially those of us who were baptized as infants with no say in the matter and no memory of the event, did I really receive the Holy Spirit?  Was my baptism enough?  Did it take?

            Part of the problem is the fact that many of us aren’t really sure what baptism is.  Some are taught that it’s what gets you into heaven, and you can’t get into heaven at all without it, no matter what.

            There are other misconceptions about baptism - some are so comfortable in the fact of their own (properly conducted) baptisms that they honestly believe that that one-time event serves as a kind of ‘get out of hell free’ card, and they don’t need to go to church or pray or even think about God, because they’ve been baptized and are automatically going to heaven.
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