Baptism of the Lord; Officers Ordination/Installation 01/10/21—Highland—Meute
“New Life, New Passion”
Genesis 1: 1-5; Acts 19: 1-7; Mark 1: 4-11
Pearl: Baptism constantly reminds us of our start with God and we can touch back to the newness and freshness of life with God each day.
Function: To provoke worshippers to hearken back to the newness of their lives with God and to be sustained by this in difficult times and that God will help us individually, as a nation, and as a world to seek a better day.
This was a difficult week for our nation to witness what we saw in our nation’s capitol within some of our most treasured public spaces. Only a year or so ago our nephew gave us a behind the scenes tour of the capitol building and I remember standing in the Hall of Presidents and feeling humbled by the sense of honor represented in that space. Our adult children were comparing their feelings last Wednesday to the way they felt on September 11, 2001.
- In this very early part of a new year it is, nonetheless, a time of freshness. As we are about to witness the transfer of one Presidential administration to another, we are feeling anxious this time.
- Considering the global pandemic it is as if we are in some kind of an exile, in a kind of wilderness experience.
- We are longing more than ever for better days…for a return to a familiar normalcy…for restoration.
- The scripture readings for today take us back to the dawn of creation and the very first day which the Lord made. Mark’s gospel records the dawn of Jesus’ ministry which began with his going out to the wilderness to meet his cousin John and to be baptized by him.
- Consider for a moment that Jesus chose to go to the wilderness, to a kind of exile in order to prepare for his sacred mission that was ahead.
- Do you long for newness ahead? Can you sense that it is coming? Or do you feel along with the writer of Ecclesiastes that “there is nothing new under the sun?”
- This may be a good time to remember your beginnings with the Lord. Think back to the freshness of your life with God. Often this involves your baptisms. Whether you were baptized as infants or at a time when you can very well remember it, your baptism is the major symbol of the beginnings of your life with God.
- When you come into the world through birth you emerge from a totally watery environment. You are dripping wet; you are brand new. When you come into an awareness of your life with God water is present as a strong symbol of a new beginning. It is a symbol of dripping wet freshness.
Think back to the beginning of your faith life with God. It was a wonderful time. It was a fresh time.
- It was a time in which you were excited about God and life in and with the Lord.
- It was a time in which you were ready to do whatever the Lord led you to do.
- It was a time of high hopes.
- It was a time of great warmth in the Lord.
- You delighted in the Word of God;
- And in the practices of the Christian life;
- You were eager to worship the Lord;
- And you were ready to do the Lord’s bidding.
A new day is a wonderful time. With God it is possible to live continuously in the new day, even when the days are quite gloomy. With God it is possible to keep a fresh perspective and a fresh outlook; it is possible to keep a fresh mind and a new heart rooted and grounded in the kingdom of God.
- This comes from God, the source of life. Everything is new and being renewed at the touch of God. This is the impact that God has on things and people and all of life.
- God is making an impact upon you as you are open to fresh air. You are open to new ideas which impact the world that God so loves.
- God is making an impact upon you when you have a rich curiosity and optimism about the way that things can be.
- God is making an impact upon you when you wake up knowing that today can be different. God is making an impact upon you when you believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
- You remember that the Lord parted the waters of the Red Sea to make a way for the Israelites.
- You remember that God raised Jesus from the dead, defeating death and sin, once and for all.
John the Baptist was in the wilderness bidding people to choose a new course. They went out to the wilderness with a mind to make changes for the better.
- It is perhaps why people go out into the woods and forests for retreat today: to gain a “new start,” a new mind, a fresh perspective. Or you go simply for a break, for a breather, for rest.
- They went out to John for this new start. They went out to him so that they could see a new day. And they went out and heard him preaching a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.
- Can you think of a better way to experience new life and to see a new day than through forgiveness and release from sin?!
- You see new days and new life when you forgive those who have wronged you.
- You see new days every day when you align yourselves with God’s priorities.
- When you align yourselves with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you see those new days.
- When you seek to help the helpless, you see new days.
- When you give yourselves to the Lord’s perspective you see new life and a new creation.
Baptism pulls you back to your beginnings with the Lord. When you first took note of God and sought a relationship with him it was a new day for you. If you can go back to that time in your mind’s eye then recall how pleased that the Lord was in you.
- Can you feel that pleasure again? Can you almost taste it? When you started out your life with God, the Lord took great pleasure in you!
- When Jesus came up out of the waters of his own baptism, it is written that the skies split open and a voice was heard, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.”
- Do you know the pleasure of the Lord in you? When you seek that freshness of perspective that is the Lord’s; when you seek to know and do the Lord’s bidding, God delights in you.
- As a matter of fact the Lord takes delight in you whether you seek him or not. As parents love their children regardless of their conduct, the Lord loves you and takes delight in you without condition.
- Can you handle that much favor?
- Today we ordain and install new church leaders: deacons, trustees, and elders. They have accepted the nomination and election of Highland Presbyterian Church to serve the Lord and to serve you as officers in this church.
- It is a new day for each of them as well. As they stand before you and recommit themselves as followers of Christ and as they agree to serve as leaders in the gospel ministry, the Lord delights in them.
- Speaking to you church leaders today: When you look to the Lord, God takes delight in you.
- When you open your minds and your hearts to new directions the Lord delights in you.
- When you admit that you don’t have all of the answers God rejoices in you.
- When you admit that you have a lot to learn and a long way to go you can almost hear: “This is my daughter; with her I am well pleased.”
- When you are inspired with some new ministry or mission opportunity and you do something about it then you hear, “with you I am well pleased.”
- When you organize to reform the systems that beat down and run over people you hear, “with you I am well pleased.”
- When you think of the people that no one thinks about you hear, “with you I am well pleased” and you live in a new day.
It is on those days that you experience the new day dawning.
In these turbulent days, followers of Jesus, remember that God is always making things new. God is making a way where there is no way.
This is the nature of God; it is also the nature of God’s people.