RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 29
Leader: Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
People: Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
Leader: The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
People: The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Men: The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
Women: The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
Choir: The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
Leader: The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
All: May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
SCRIPTURES: Isaiah 42:1-9 & Matthew 3:13-17
Baptism marks the beginning of our Christian journey, and most clearly symbolizes the transformation from our old life to the new. By remembering the baptism of Jesus, and recalling our own, we have the opportunity to rediscover our first enthusiasm for the call of God on our lives.
Paul teaches us that baptism represents our participation by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. (Romans 6) The transition from not-yet-believer to faithful follower of Jesus is so distinct, so all encompassing, as to parallel the experience of passing from this life to the next through death. If our before-faith and with-faith lives are identical, then something is missing.
Baptism also connects us to the church. Paul likens baptism to circumcision, by which Jewish boys are marked as members of the community of faith and people of God. (Colossians 2:8-15) Baptism is actually our outward enacting of what God alone can do – break down the dividing walls and bridge the chasms that separate humans from one another, from their own lives, from the created world and from a deep and intimate experience of the divine.
The incarnation itself emphasizes that we are physical beings in need of a physical experience that grounds our spiritual reality. What happens to us in the physical world affects us spiritually, and visa versa. There is a reason we gather together for worship and don’t simply stay at home or wherever else we might be and imagine that we are connected spiritually. We need physical connection – both proximity and touch. Baptism roots our spirituality in our embodied experience of the world.
These are initial planning notes and reflections for my sermon on 1/8/17 at Central Christian Church of Dallas.
Image credit Sermon Central