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.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You weep with us in our heartbreak and loss
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works

Persons are invited forward to choose a flower, place the flower on the cross, and pray at the communion rail. 

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All Saints Remembrance © 2016 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.

Poem: We Need to Linger

holy week primitive cartoon adapted
Before we get to Easter, we need to linger:
in the vulnerability of the basin and the towel
at the remembrance and promise of the table
in the struggle and betrayal of the garden
in the shadows and shouts of injustice
at the bloody brutal beautiful cross
in the silence of linen and spices and death

For without these, the empty tomb is empty

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Poem: We Need to Linger © 2000 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.

Forgiven and Whole (Matthew 9.1-8)

forgiveness (1)Based on Matthew 9:1-8 and Hebrews 12:1

Jesus, my sin clings so closely
It’s hard to breathe
It’s hard to move on
The weight bears heavy
I cannot support myself
I’m trapped in the past, paralyzed by guilt and consequence

“Take heart your sins are forgiven.”

I rise and follow you home

Jesus, my sin clings so closely
I’ve confessed it before
Turned and walked a new path, but it reaches out to grab me again
It tells me the new isn’t true.

“Take heart, your sins are forgiven.”

I remember

Your power never falters, is never undone
Your power is complete

I re-member

I am whole in your love and grace
Hallelujah!

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The Glory of Your Saving Love  © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

All Saints Remembrance


I am not a saint unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.
– Nelson Mandela

Holiness only appears to be abnormal. The truth is, holiness is normal; to be anything else is to be abnormal. Being a saint is simply being the person God made me to be. Saints at the end of the day are not really strange or odd or misfits. They are simply real, or normal. They actually are what we all are made to be, what we can be. – James C. Howell

ALL SAINTS REMEMBRANCE
1 Corinthians 1:2-3 NRSV
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ

The followers of Jesus in Corinth had some serious problems, infighting and immorality to name a couple, yet Paul calls them saints. A saint is not a perfect person. Saints are simply persons who know their deep need of God- they know they’re sinners- yet they haven’t stayed there. They’ve placed their trust in the marvelous grace, forgiveness, and healing of God through Jesus Christ.

If you love and follow Jesus, you are a saint.

And so my brothers and sisters
Let us remember who we are in Jesus- saints set apart by God and for God
Let us remember our purpose- to lead a devoted life
– A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
– A life which inspires faith in others
– A life ushering in the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
– The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
– The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
– And especially those who we have known and loved who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Raise your voices and speak their names now …

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You weep with us in our heartbreak and loss
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

Blessed are you, O Lord our God,
You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works

Persons are invited forward to choose a flower, place the flower on the cross, and pray at the communion rail. 

*************
All Saints Remembrance © 2016 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.

Prayer: Steadfast in Your Strength (Ephesians 6:10)

be strong in the lord ephesians 6-10Ephesians 6:10
Be strong in the Lord
and in the strength of his might.

Lord God of Heaven and Earth
I am strong when I stand in Your strength

Help me to live that truth
Reveal it’s fullness
So that I may know that I know that I know
Down in my bones
One with my being
Re-member me
Steadfast in Your strength

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Steadfast in Your Strength by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.

Call to Worship- We are not the first to come this way

walk path water sunThis call to worship was commissioned for the opening worship service of the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church. The call includes a person from each conference holding a container, each with a different type of soil from their home conference. At the end of the liturgy, they pour the soils into a single container as a symbol of God’s power to bring unity in diversity. 

VOICE ONE
As we gather on your good earth,
in the light of your love and hope
We honor your holy name and remember

ALL
We remember

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of native ancestors
Who respected your land, your creatures,
and their place in your world

ALL
We remember
Thank you for their lessons
Teach us to care for your creation, including each other

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of colonizers
Who disrespected your children, stole from your children,
bought and sold your children

ALL
We remember
Their legacy haunts us still
Free us from slavery to sin and death

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of immigrants and refugees
Who cross desert and mountain, river and sea
in search of safety and opportunity, freedom and home

ALL
We remember
We share their story, their hopes and dreams
Show us how to welcome and share

ONE
We are not the first to come this way
We walk the path of Coke and Asbury
Who loved your word, took up their cross,
and spread your Good News across this region

ALL
We remember
Their witness calls us to faith and action
Fill us with your holy fire

ONE
We remember we are made in your image
We remember we are dust and to dust we shall return

ALL
We remember
Common soil, common ground
Make us one in our humility
Make us one in our diversity
Make us one in you

Everyone sings Make us One by Carol Cymbala (CCLI #695737) as the sand is poured

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We are not the first to come this way by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia © 2016
You are welcome to use this in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa directly for publishing and posting consideration.