SER # 2Xa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
COLOR: WHITE OR GOLD
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
SUNDAY JANUARY 10TH, 2021
TEXTS: MARK 1: 4 – 11
THEME: REMEMBER YOUR BAPTISM:
Today we have prayed for our leaders for the 2021 and we have given them our blessings and our support. It is my hope that through this leadership this year we will find ways to do ministry amid pandemic. It is not very easy to lead but with God’s help I know they will do well.
I would like us to turn to a very special thing that was done to Jesus many years back that we practice today. That is Jesus Baptism. Let me ask a general question, how many of you were baptized as adults that you can remember the event? Many of us were baptized as babies so we may not remember the event of the actual baptism. I do know that those who went through confirmation also did discuss the issue of Baptism. It is in our practice that before you are confirmed you need to be baptized and we follow that practice.
John who was for runner of Jesus started his ministry in the wilderness. He was a Nazirites hence never cut his hair and never drunk any wine. His kind of living drew him out of the everyday people who lived in town, yet God was using him to reach the town people. They went out to where he was preaching. He must have gotten their attention that they felt compelled to go and be blessed. One of the main teaching was that of baptism which should be preceded by repentance. You quickly conclude that John was preaching on adult baptism where people needed to repent their sins before they could be baptized.
The message of baptism to the Jews did not sound right. They never needed it so they believed. This was because baptism was left for the gentiles who wanted to become part of the chosen race (Jews).
The proselytes (Gentiles or Non-Jews) had to undergo three rituals:
Circumcision: This was to be welcomed to be a member of the covenant people as it was started by Abraham
Sacrifice: The sacrifice was important in that one needed to go through some form of atonement (Cleansing). The atonement involved blood. This meant an animal had to be sacrificed to clean the person joining the people of the covenant.
Baptism: This involved being immerged in water to offer the ritual of cleansing from the past pollution. Then invited you to the covenant family
Even with this background John message was appealing to the people of the day because:
John lived his message: John was protesting the kind of life that people were living by living a unique life by all standards. He did this by choosing to live in the desert as opposed to living in the town. He protested by the choice of clothe he wore. Instead of wearing expensive clothes like many people he chose to wear the skin of a Camel. Instead of eating all the nice food prepared by the best cooks he eats wild honey and locust. John was therefore living his message. Today we have preachers who preach on poverty while they live in the comfort zones at the expense of the many poor people around them. A preacher might fly a private Jet when some members of his church are being evicted from their houses for failure to pay their rent. There is nothing wrong for a preacher achieving things as long as they don’t do it at the expense of others.
John spoke to the people hearts: he was speaking to those truths that lived in the hearts of people, but nobody was ready to speak about them. The truth that people need to repent from their sins that they have committed to themselves and to other people. People knew that they were living in sin and yet nobody was bold enough like John to tell people that. There were still false prophets in John time whose aim was to gain favors hence they avoided telling people the truth. There are some truths that we know like how people live a wasteful life when the world is starving but few like to speak about that.
John spoke with humility: Even when John was gaining popularity unlike many, he never claimed any special place but rather believed that the greater one was to come after him. He Pointed to someone and something beyond himself – Jesus. The ministry of John was not about him, but about Jesus. He was therefore quick to point out he who was coming was greater than him. He believed that he was not even worthy to tie the shoe races of Jesus the work that was usually done by slaves. In other words, John was putting himself even lower than the slaves. He told people that his baptism was not enough, they will have to be willing to receive baptism from the Holy Spirit that Jesus was bringing.
But john had discovered that it was only the cleansed life that belongs to God. John the Baptist, baptism was based on confession: Today I would like to invite you to remember your baptism and what it means:
- Baptism is the re-birth: Though some of us may not remember the experience that you had when they were baptized, I would like to invite to join me in re-enacting the baptism experience. Those with us a little cup will be passed to you with some water and you will deep your figure in there and make a cross sign saying these words, “I remember my baptism.” This act does not mean you are being baptized twice for we do not believe in that. Our believe is once you were baptized that is enough is like being physically born you can be born again. I know spiritually we can be born again according to the story of Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1ff). We are invited to start a new life under the guidance of Jesus himself. Our old-self is taken away as we repent and come humbly to die in our sin and rise to life. When Nicodemus met with Jesus he was invited to a new re-birth through water and Holy spirit of god.
- Baptism is joining the family: Being a member of God’s family means we are included at the table. Being at the family table means you receive your share. We still have people out there that need to be invited at the table. As God’s family them we have same access and benefits from our father God. Baptism put a sign on our forehead to remind us we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. In baptism God initiate us to a new beginning of being our brothers and sister’s keeper. Family members take care of one another. That why are become our brother’s and sister’s keeper. We are invited to take our place in the family of god vineyard of being a blessing to the world.
- Baptism is being a disciple: We are invited to be disciples from our family table to our town our state and the whole world. Being a child of God, we are commissioned the reach the whole world with the love of God. Discipleship is important as God’s beloved child. When we have experienced the goodness of God, we need to reach out to those who feel left alone. We become the salt of the world a city builds on the hill that people might see. Being disciples call us to keep learning from our master.
As we remember our baptism this morning, we are reminded to keep ourselves clean from all those things that might affect our relationship with God.