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Summary: A sermon for the Baptism of Jesus

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First Sunday after the Epiphany

Baptism of Jesus

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

"God Alive and Well"

15* As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,

16* John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

17* His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

21* Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

22* and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”RSV

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

Some time ago I saw a picture of an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of what had been that family’s sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only in his underclothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented a profound theology and philosophy of life.

Those words were,"Hush child, God ain’t dead!" 1

God ain’t dead. God is alive and well in this world. God’s grace is alive and well in this world. God through His son, Jesus Christ is alive and well in this world.

For all those who are living in burnt out shacks, God ain’t dead, he is alive and well. For all those who are living with the brokenness of life, God ain’t dead.

Our gospel lesson this morning is the story of Jesus’ baptism. Jesus was baptized as a sign of his beginning ministry in the world. A ministry that continues to this day.

Jesus’ baptism was a sign of His ministry among us. Our baptism is a sign of our ministry, our role in the church of Christ.

Baptism is not an insurance policy to heaven, but baptism is our boarding pass to a lifetime with Jesus. Baptism begins a relationship with Jesus which is nourished, feed, strengthen, enriched and kept alive by faithfully availing one’s self to God’s means of grace, the word and the sacraments, especially communion. Our journey through life with Jesus needs the encouragement, the strength, the lasting power of a faithful presence in and with the community of believers.

In a certain village in Europe several centuries ago, a nobleman wondered what legacy he should leave to his townspeople. He decided to build a church for a legacy.

The completed plans for the church were kept secret. When the people gathered, they marveled at the church’s beauty and completeness.

Following many comments of praise, as astute observer inquired "But where are the lamps? How will the church be lighted?"

Without answering, the nobleman pointed to some brackets in the wall; he then gave to each family a lamp to be carried to the worship service and hung it on the wall. "Each time you are here, the area where you are seated will be lighted," the nobleman explained. "Each time you are not here, that area will be dark. Whenever you fail to come to church, some part of God’s house will be dark."

Along with being included and wanted in God’s family, baptism allows us equal access to God’s grace. The good news of God through Christ, God is no respecter of persons. In God’s eyes all are equal.

The following illustrates that point. "In a stately church a noticeably untidy man visited the church for the first time. He was met by one of the smartly-dressed ushers who immediately ushered him to a back pew so that his unkept appearance and foul odor would not upset the decorum of the church.

Another first time visitor stood in the foyer. He was neatly groomed and made a striking appearance in his dark pinned stripped suit. One of the ushers strode proudly down the aisle with him and seated him in the front of the church.

Following the service, the president or the congregation invited the man to dinner at his home.

As they were seated around the table, the food was passed. The visitor helped himself to the delicious looking potatoes placing them on his plate. But then he did a strange thing, he scooped the potatoes into his suit coat pocket. The family watched as he proceeded to do the same with the carrots and the meat. Unable to keep silent any longer the father asked, "Why are you pouring the food into your coat pocket?" The visitor smiled and answered politely, "Judging from where you seated the visitor who came in before me I gather that you invited my suit to lunch so I’m feeding it."

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