Due to the scheduling of my vacation we are doing the Wesleyan Covenant Service (the Jarren Rowell version) this week instead of last.
I have planned to preach Matthew this week and see connections to the Isiah passage. I have some very thin tendrils that seem to connect these two to the covenant service but I am unsure if it can actually be done well.
I need to do some more reading and research.
I was just wondering what everyone else was preaching this week and see if you all had any ideas which would help me along this week.
I have always been a bit uncomfortable with this movement in the church calendar. It simply does not make sense to folks to jump so quickly from Christmas to Epiphany to Jesus' baptism. I understand why it has/is done, but it doesn't feel right. In fact, it is, from a lay perspective, one of the "shake your head" aspects of the lectionary and church year.
With this in mind, I am beginning a series of messages on relationships in the life of Jesus - that will take us until Lent. What I am doing this Sunday is relating two of the Gospel passages: Luke 2:22-40 (Jesus presented at the temple) and Matthew 3:13-17, discussing generational relationships in the new kingdom.
"Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"
I actually agree Mike, it feels like we skipped some very good stuff, i.e. Simeon and Anna, Jesus at the temple. It seems that the season of Epiphany is usually long enough to move "Baptism Sunday" back a few weeks at least. Let us have some time to move from the Magi to the baptism.
All that said there is the argument made in the early church about the Baptism being Jesus' second birth, born of woman and then of water. But it takes a whole lot of explanation to help a congregation get there.
Ok so as I am looking at this, where we are in our church life etc. I am wondering if I should link the Baptism and the temptation narrative and talk about beginnings. Look at how Jesus moved into his ministry. Beginning with and act of obedience and a movement into prayer, listening to God in the desert. We are at a time of beginnings. The covenant renewal being a beginning, the beginning of the new year, we just bought the new parsonage, we recently opened Hope's Cradle. Our church is moving in new directions, listening to who God is calling us to be. There is a connect to allowing God to proclaim who we are (in a similar fashion to how God proclaimed who Jesus is), perhaps with out the sky splitting, dove like Spirit and voice (which may or may not have been heard by more than Jesus and John). Anyway, those are my "day two" thoughts.
I have done a short modified Wesley Covenant Service on the Sunday celebrating Jesus' Baptism using water rather than Communion as the climax. Again this Sunday I will invite people to "Remember the Waters of their Baptism." I invite them forward at the close of the message from Matthew 3 and sprinkle a few drops of water from a clay bowl into thier cupped hands and say, "Remember the Waters of your Baptism."
And at the same time (and this is part of where I'm headed with it this week), Jesus' baptism is yet another reminder to us that the Incarnation is God coming to assume the position of humanity as one with us. The tension of "why would a sinless Jesus need to be baptized?" is in part spoken to by thinking about what happen(ed)s in the Incarnation. Jesus indeed may have been "sinless," yet his baptism points to his (and our hopeful need) for affirmation from God before we actually DO anything.
Thinking out loud here...
So I asked people to share their baptism experiences before the sermon. It was great - such a variety of experiences.
A trio sang "I Then Shall Live" for our response. I thought it was a wonderful reflection on Christ's baptism and then our own, and it fulfilled the theme of the sermon: so you've been baptized...so what? How then will you live?