It was really great see Jack and Lin Sikora back for a winter visit from the snow and ice in Connecticut. We do enjoy their time with us each year.
My wish is that Marge Boyd had a great birthday on Jan, 14th. And I wish a happy birthday to Dorothy Johnson on Jan. 19, to John Koock on Jan. 20, to Ruby Toeppich and to Billy Wayne Koock on Jan. 22nd and to Diana Head on Jan. 23rd. Have a special day!
On the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany, Pastor Cliff’s message about the Baptism of our Lord came from the Gospel reading from Mark 1:4-13. These are the words of Pastor Cliff.
Can you remember when you were baptized?
Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptist. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. (Matthew 3)
I invite you to see and hear this through the lens of epiphany and incarnation. I invite you to look and remember your own baptism, and look at it through your call by God. God has called all who are baptized followers of Jesus to be holy and living sacrifices, Holy and living sacrifices that will “carry out all that God requires.”
Praying and asking God for wisdom and discernment on how God is calling us to live out our baptism in the Kingdom will involve commitment. Jesus said, Whosoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
Following Jesus will include suffering. You have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. (Philippians 1:29). Some would also teach that following Jesus requires that we grow in wisdom, that we learn to pray, and that we become peacemakers. Living out our baptism should be disruptive to our lifestyle, disruptive to our tendency to glide, to withdraw, and to avoid risk, disruptive to our tendency to focus our own comfort and safety.
Being a baptized follower of Jesus will challenge you to look and see where maybe you have chosen fear, rather than love. I especially invite you to look at those places and relationships in your life where you said to yourself “I will never”. We need to look closely there, because fear and never and won’t, limits the possibilities of God’s grace. And God’s grace and love is unlimited.
This is the Epiphany: We are allowed, invited and welcomed to respond to God’s generous love we call grace. With that response, be fully grounded in the knowledge that the debt Jesus paid on Calvary can never be repaid. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Our salvation is a free, un-merited, extravagant, generous gift of love from God, revealed at Christmas. And we have the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to live responsibly (response-ably) and courageously by glorifying God with our lives.
God invites us to let our light shine in a world of darkness. This is the Epiphany, the revealing. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17) That’s Epiphany. That’s the plan. You’re invited to live out your baptism. John the Baptist was a bit confused when Jesus asked him to baptize him. But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
Have you been playing “patty-cake” as a Christian? Are you ready to commit to God and ask for the grace and power and the spirit to become fully alive in Christ? Are you ready to do all that God requires?