yearC baptism
 


This Week's Sermon:

    Luke 3:15-17,21-22  -  The Spirit Has Landed   
         
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Last Sunday the Mars rover named “Spirit” touched down on the planets surface. It is now sending back beautiful color photographs of the red planet. What a great name for such a small machine. I hope that it makes some great discovery. We need a bit of spirit in our world.

 

I don’t know if you have seen pictures of the rover; it’s about the size of a small coffee table. A lot of NASA’s hopes are riding on this little robot. There’s something to be said about the big influence of small things.

 

It reminds me of the Scottish minister who told his congregation about dreaming he had died. When he came to the pearly gates, to his dismay, he would be denied entrance until he presented his credentials. Proudly the Pastor articulated the number of sermons preached and the prominent pulpits occupied. But Saint Peter said no one had heard them in heaven. The discouraged servant enumerated his community involvement. He was told they were not recorded. Sorrowfully, the pastor turned to leave, when Peter said, "Stay a moment, and tell me, are you the man who fed the sparrows?"

 

"Yes," the Scotsman replied, "but what does that have to do with it?"

 

"Come in," said Saint Peter, "the Master of the sparrows wants to thank you."

 

Here is the pertinent, though often overlooked, point: great and prominent positions indicate skill and capacity, but small services suggest the depth of one's consecration. We overlook the big influence of small things.

 

And so it is with Jesus' Baptism. It’s a small thing for Jesus to do. It was not necessary for him to be baptized since there was no sin in his life for which to repent. But he submits to John's Baptism of Repentance anyway. Why? To identify with our sins. He joined in the popular movement of his day. It was a grass roots movement started by a desert monk named John the Baptist. John was calling for the repentance of Israel. Jesus chooses to be baptized because he wants to participate with the people in their desires to be close to God.

 

It’s a small thing Jesus does but what a big influence. It forever marks baptism as the way we Christians publicly declare our repentance and dependence on God’s grace.

 

So the Spirit descends from the heavens, lands on Jesus and sends the following vivid snapshots:

 

First, in the backdrop all the people are baptized.

Second, in the forefront Jesus stands out as the focus of God’s love.

Third, Baptism is the framework by which ministry begins.

 

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What Is Unique About Christianity?

 

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

 

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....

 

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sermons.com presents Leonard Sweet