Sunday, January 8, 2017


1st Sunday After Epiphany
Baptism of the Lord Sunday
with Matthew 3:13-17 and Acts 10:34-43   @FirstUMCBville   @kerrfunk

I’d like to tell you about a few cartoons.
B.C. by Johnny Hart. 

Caveman prays What’s Christmas all about? Surprised by a loud noise outside and we see a cross through the entryway. Last panel we see it’s the crossed ribbon on a gift, and there’s a voice from above: “It’s about giving, my son.” About giving My Son. My son, it’s about giving.
We used our little red bucket several times last year to fund
Shop With a Cop.
Over the years folks always approach me,
Can you give this to someone in need?
A Bad Day in Cat Church. Two cats trying in vain to immerse a third cat in the baptismal pool.

Though cats may think they’re God, perhaps one reason God did not become incarnate as a cat was for the baptism.
The part we remember about Jesus’ baptism? The dove, the voice.
The other part? John tried to prevent Jesus, but as in birth, at baptism Jesus chose to begin humbly. Whoever can humble can follow, start here, and in following Jesus there is forgiveness.
What do you expect in 2017? I expect flowers.
Why? I’m planting flowers.

Unusually high celebrity deaths in 2016.
Scratch the unusually high and celebrity:
deaths in 2017, or first year without loved one.
Plant flowers. Live alive now.
Global climate change (2016 marked third consecutive record-breaking year of avg global temp)
again, if you are planting a sapling and someone says Messiah is coming, finish planting…(Rabbi Jochanen ben Zakkai, generation before Jesus).
God is interested in how we respond.
As in reading from Acts 10:34-43:
do good for all, stand against oppression,
spread message of forgiveness
• Did you notice in that Acts reading we get a recap of the whole story?
We celebrated Jesus’ birth two weeks ago (or maybe two days ago)
and now he’s grown and he’s baptized and he teaches and he does and he dies and is resurrected and forgiveness of sins happens through him…
And we’re called upon to spread the message of Jesus, to live his message
so last week we rededicate ourselves
and this week we challenge ourselves:
How will we plant flowers for 2017? 
How will we live the kingdom for 2017?
Who will we invite into fellowship? 
To whom will we minister?
 And what will get in our way?

• Hymn 77 How Great Thou Art

Matthew 3:13-17 (NRSV) 
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 
16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Acts 10:34-43 (the VOICE)  
34 Peter said: it is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, 35 that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. 36 You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed—who is King of all people. 37 You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. 38 You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him.
You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. 
39 My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, 40 but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. 41 Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. 
42 He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people—both living and dead. 43 All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name. X

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