Sermon Recording: It Begins With Baptism (Matthew 3)

Message: It Begins in Baptism
Scripture: Matthew 3:11-17
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 1/13/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida. On the first Sunday after Epiphany (January 6), many Christians remember the Baptism of Jesus Christ. As part of the celebration, the faithful renew their baptismal vows.

Rev. Janet Wolf telling the story of Fayette
In new members’ class we talked about baptism: this holy moment when we are named by God’s grace with such power it won’t come undone.

Fayette was there—a woman living on the streets, struggling with mental illness and lupus. She loved the part about baptism and would ask over and over, “And when I’m baptized, I am . . . ?” We soon learned to respond, “Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.” “Oh, yes!” she’d say, and then we could go back to our discussion.

The big day came. Fayette went under, came up sputtering, and cried, “And now I am . . . ?” And we all said, “Beloved, precious child of God, and beautiful to behold.” “Oh, yes!” she shouted as she danced all around the fellowship hall.

Two months later I got a call. Fayette had been beaten and raped and was at the county hospital. So I went. I could see her from a distance, pacing back and forth. When I got to the door, I heard, “I am beloved . . . ” She turned, saw me, and said, “I am beloved, precious child of God, and. . . . ” Catching sight of herself in the mirror— hair sticking up, blood and tears streaking her face, dress torn, dirty, and rebuttoned askew, she started again, “I am beloved, precious child of God, and . . . ” She looked in the mirror again and declared, “ . . . and God is still working on me. If you come back tomorrow, I’ll be so beautiful I’ll take your breath away!”

In a world that pronounces so many of us “not good enough,” what might it mean to believe that our true identity is chosen, precious, and beloved?

It begins with baptism

Reading: Matthew 3:13-17 NRSV

Chosen, Beloved, Blessed. It all begins with Baptism.

Where do we find our Identity?             

  • What family, country, neighborhood we were born into
  • Our job, school, the team we follow

We can find our identity in so many different places. But those measures of identity will fade away. They are not lasting. This is lasting. “This is my son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. This is my daughter, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is who you are in Christ. It so strong, so rooted, it goes beyond circumstance. It goes beyond disease. It goes beyond death.

Identity begins with baptism. But there’s more!

Empowerment

  • Verse 16, The heavens were opened to him
  • Verse 16, The Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him
  • Verse 11, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire

It all begins with baptism. This naming, claiming, and identity begins with baptism and empowering begins with baptism.

It doesn’t stop or end with baptism. It begins with baptism. This is where Jesus begins his public ministry, the three years leading up to his death and resurrection. The healing, the preaching, the welcoming, the teaching, the work of justice and saving.

It’s not just the beginning for Jesus, it’s also the beginning for us. Baptism is the ordination of every follower of Jesus Christ into the priesthood of all believers. 

Jesus didn’t come and die and rise again so you could be a member of a church. Jesus came and died and rose again so you could be a missionary. A missionary in whatever way that looks like for you. A missionary to your family, co-workers, neighborhood, the folks you hang out with… whatever that looks like.

It’s so important and it will take so much of us we too must remember who we are and we too must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Baptism of Christ with Dove by Daniel BonnellThe Baptism of the Christ with Dove by Daniel Bonnell. What do you notice? What does it remind us of?

  • movement of the painting
  • power of the colors, fire colors
  • light radiating
  • submission and humility of Christ
  • you see the crucifixion
  • the dove representing the Holy Spirit
  • Jesus’ arms match the dove wings
  • One Christ’s hands are down and one is up, death and victory/resurrection, fully human and fully divine
  • of ripples of water radiating out into the world

What if every time we washed our faces, or stood beneath the shower, or were caught in a rainstorm, we remembered and reaffirmed our baptism- our identity and our empowerment.   

There’s so much being said in this powerful painting because there is so much going on in the waters of baptism. When we come forward to the waters, there’s so much we are reaffirming, recommitting to, and being thankful for.

On the recording, the message transitions into the Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows

Worship Resources
Holy Spirit, Holy One
Holy Spirit, Descending Dove
Alight on me that I may know your presence
Anoint me that I may know your call
Fill me that I may know your power
Guide me that I may know your path
Name me that I may know, that I know, that I know who I am
Amen

Be Still, Remember
a hymn for reaffirming the baptismal covenant
Suggested Tune- ONE BREAD, ONE BODY (United Methodist Hymnal #620)

Refrain-
Be still, remember, who you are.
Come touch the water
of your birth.
Be dead to sin, alive to God.
Remember who you are in Jesus.

Verses-
You are beloved.
You are an heir.
You are a child of God.

You are claimed.
You are marked.
You are named by God.

Chosen and blessed
Gifted by God
Witness through word and deed

Check out a poem/devotional entitled The Beloved by Steve Garnaas Holmes

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Holy Spirit, Holy One © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Be Still, Remember © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
It Begins in Baptism © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Sermon Recording- People on Fire (Acts 2.1-4)

Sermon Series Website What is Church
Sermon Series: What is Church?
Message 5 of 6: People on Fire
Scriptures: Acts 2:1-4
This message was offered Sunday, 5/20/18 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

Happy Pentecost!

Matthew 3:11, NRSV   In preparing the people for the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist promised, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Acts 1:5-8 NRSV, selected verses   On the day in which he ascended to heaven, Jesus promised, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now…. you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 2:1-4, NRSV   Ten days later, Jesus fulfilled his promises. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

2 Timothy 1:5-7 NIV   Paul later counseled Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Prayer by Gene Barlett: Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire. Make my life a witness of Thy saving power. Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word. Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire.

Sermon Subpage Header Fire

Excerpt from Tongues by Steve Garnaas Holmes

  • What if God is still doing Pentecost?
  • What if God wants to say something through you? Is it getting spoken? Is it getting sent?
  • What if you are the Word God is trying to get out?
  • What if you are the language in which God expresses love?
  • What if there are ways, even beyond your own knowing, that others hear God’s good news through your life?
  • What if God gives you everything you need to do this?

The Power of the Holy Spirit isn’t just for long ago, it is a gift that comes again, again, again. It is God’s divine, empowering presence generation after generation.

  • Moses and the Burning Bush
  • The Pillar of Flame leading the people from slavery through the wilderness to the promised land
  • The Dancing Tongues of Fire on the heads of the faithful at Pentecost
  • Francis/Clare of Assisi
  • Susanna/John Wesley
  • Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Dr. King
  • It’s in you, a gift for all who believe

Draw close to the fire
Being “on fire” = focused, all in, achieving, in the zone, unstoppable

This is what it means to be followers of Jesus, to be the church, we are a people on fire

Brennan Manning Quote: The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.

This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian. 

Between Acts 1:5-8 and Acts 2:1-4, the 120 followers of Jesus gathered together and prayed for 9 days together. They drew close to the fire. They were “men and women who surrendered to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within… who entered into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ.”

Illustration of the coal and the fire

Draw close to the fire
The Fire of God

  • Consumes falsehood, sin, self-centeredness, apathy, fear
  • Purifies our motives
  • Lights us up. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.”
  • Empowers us to live and to act in faith

Draw close to the fire

Prayer by Gene Barlett: Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire. Make my life a witness of Thy saving power. Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word. Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9:00 am or 10:30 am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9:00 am Sundays or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

sermon © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Jesus, the Coming Messiah- Shoot from Jesse’s Stump (Isaiah 11, Matthew 3, John 15)

Jesus, The Coming MessiahJesus, The Coming Messiah: Advent Readings from Old Testament to New
December 13: The Messiah as Sprout from Jesse’s Stump
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Matthew 3:13-17; John 15:1-7

Isaiah 11:1-2, The Voice
But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising, will sprout from Jesse’s stump; A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit. And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.

Matthew 3:15, The Voice
John agreed, and he ritually cleansed Jesus, dousing Him in the waters of the Jordan. Jesus emerged from His baptism; and at that moment heaven was opened, and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him, alighting on His very body.

John 15:5, The Voice
Jesus said, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing.”

God’s family tree, once beautiful and thriving, is cut off by foolishness, pride, sin and circumstance. The promised homeland is destroyed by invaders. The best and brightest are taken to foreign lands to serve their captors. Generations pass. Some finally come home to ruins.

Our life can follow that same path. Something happens to our healthy, vibrant family tree. It comes like lightning in a storm, shattering us with a deafening clap. Or it come more subtly, as disease and decaying choices rot us from the inside slowly. There’s no more shade. No more fruit. All that is left is a stump- cut off from once was.

Yet, in those ruins, in that cut off stump is God’s grace – an old, determined root. From it springs something green, tender, and vulnerable. Something new. This new life starts small – like a babe in a manger – but it can grow. – Lisa Degrenia <><

Prayer
Hallelujah to Jesus!
The promised shoot from Jesse’s stump
Bringing a new and tender grace

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Good Gardner’s Vine
Graft us into your everlasting life

Hallelujah to Jesus!
The Christ, the Anointed One
May the Holy Spirit rest on us as it did you

Rest on us Spirit of Wisdom and Counsel
Rest on us Spirit of Favor and Might
Rest on us Spirit of Reverence and Awe

Rest on us and resurrect us
to righteousness, faithfulness, and your promised peace

Click here for another reflection by Lisa entitled Jesus the Vine

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Thank you for setting aside times this Holy Season to seek the One we celebrate.

Jesus, The Coming Messiah is an Advent Bible Reading Plan highlighting the Old Testament prophesies and passages which Christians see fulfilled in Jesus.

As you read each passage, consider how this description of Jesus the Messiah reveals his character, motivation, and purpose. How does this description inspire you to trust Jesus and his promises? How will you apply and share what you have discovered? I look forward to your comments.

If you’re in Sarasota, please drop by Trinity United Methodist Church for one of our seasonal events or services or just to say, “Hi.” You’re always welcome and wanted.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <

The Messiah as Shoot from Jesse’s Stump © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in devotional settings with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information/permission to publish this work in any form.

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread (Psalm 1, Matthew 3:8-12, Matthew 13:24-30, John 6)

wheatThere are times when a line from scripture opens up a path through other scriptures to a new place with God.

My most recent trip began with Psalm 1, a comparison of those who follow and delight in the ways of God and those who choose their own path, which is often destructive for themselves and others. The first are like trees “planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” The second “are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Chaff is straw- withered, brittle stalks remaining after a grain harvest. Nothing like a tree. Trees take longer to produce fruit, but remain season after season.

Chaff is also the discarded casing around the grain itself. Wheat and chaff, for example. The wheat is separated from the chaff by throwing it into the air. The heavier wheat falls to the ground while the chaff is “driven away” by the wind.

This led to Matthew 3:8-12 and the sharp, prophetic voice of John the Baptizer. I knew I’d find references to the division of wheat and chaff, but also found references to trees and fruit. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” (v. 8) Repentance means to do a u-turn, to do a 180 from walking in our own ways to walking with God. Our lives should show this change season after season in delicious (from the Latin words for delight and entice) and nutritious (life-giving) words and actions.

A tree must be nurtured to continue to bear fruit, just like our relationship with God must be nurtured. Presumption, apathy, legalism, entitlement, and judgmental attitudes bear no fruit. Barren trees represent a withered, brittle, barren being. The Baptizer reminds us trees can be cut down the same as crops.

The wheat theme led to Matthew 13:24-30, a parable of Jesus about a field of wheat and weeds. Life is a mixture of good and evil this side of heaven. We are a mixture as well. Will we cooperate with God to nurture the wheat or will we go our way and nurture the weeds? Will we embrace God’s patience with all that is in and around us, knowing we may not recognize it’s truth now, knowing there is still time for change?

Images of seeds, wheat and harvest led to bread which led to John 6, where Jesus reveals his divine person and purpose using the metaphor of bread. This is where my imagining opened my heart again to God’s great love and grace in Jesus.

Jesus- the seed of eternity sewn in a humble womb
Growing in strength and wisdom
Irrigated in water and the Spirit
Bearing much fruit

Jesus- cut down in a harvest of hate
Sifted in the wind of accusation and mocking
Broken between the stones of injustice and fear
Seasoned with spices
and salty tears
Covered in cloth
and set in a dry cool place
In time… risen
The Bread of Life

John 6:32-35
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

And we come full circle to the water promises of Psalm 1. Wow!

Now, more wow. If we are followers of Christ, we become like our Jesus. The scriptures even name the followers of Christ his Body. Our journey is too one of seed, wheat and bread for the world.

Take a breath and let that nourish your soul. – Lisa <><

Jesus we want to be wheat,
But we are so often weeds
Sewn in self deception
Driven by winds beyond our making

Take away our bent to sinning
Our twisted torture
Our dry disorder
and dis-ease

Take us
Plant us anew
Nurture us to fruitfulness

Take us
Harvest us anew
Deliver us from evil

Take us
Make us anew
Your Body
Your Bread
Blessed and broken
Risen and redeemed
A mystery
A meal of grace
For our hunger
And our hungry world
Amen

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Click here for a collection of quotes on the theme Jesus, The Bread of Life

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread © 2015 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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please refer to the copyright information page.