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Hello. We doing a two for one deal this morning.
On January 8th was a feast day, the Baptism of our Lord Jesus (the) Christ. On January 15th, we cancelled church, but the texts are deeply connected and intertwined with the Baptismal texts of January 8th.
On January 8th, our texts were Isaiah 42, where Isaiah talks about the servant (we associate with Israel) as being a light to the nations. In Matthew 3, we have Matthew’s account of the Baptism of Jesus (the) Christ; where the heavens open, the dove/Spirit descends, and the voice says “this is my Son” leaving us to wonder whether Jesus was the only one or not, who witnessed these events.
This past Sunday (January 15th), the text was Isaiah 49 which is included in the servant songs and the servant, again, is being told to be a light to the nations and that this is a mission, a calling, that existed prior to their birth. In John (John 1), we have a text about John the Baptist, who is pointing the way towards Christ telling people ‘this is the one who I saw the Spirit rest upon during his Baptism’.
They (the people) go to Jesus and ask, ‘Rabbi (teacher), where are you staying’.
He (Jesus) replies ‘come and see’.
The thread that goes through all four of these texts is the thread of mission. We are called to be a light to the nations, to be the light of Christ to the world. This language should not sound unfamiliar, if you recall your U.S. History classes. The Puritans firmly believed and our Founding Forefathers accepted that this grand experiment of the new world, which would become the United States of America, was meant to be a beacon of light, a city on a hill, an example of Godly living that the world could follow, especially Europe.
In our Baptismal rite, we (like Christ) have a ceremony of repentance acknowledging that we are not necessarily on the path we have been called to, we now accept that path, and will strive to keep upon it; to keep upon a way that has been prepared for us. These Baptismal promises are geared towards continually turning the focus away from being on ourselves and being on Christ.
We are testifying to Christ, such as John the Baptist did. Now, if John the Baptist existed in our present day, we would probably reward him with and his unique ways with a padded room and a jacket where he could hug himself. He did not follow the convention of his time nor our own time, but he spoke and testified to Christ, to this light, to this way of being.
We in our Baptismal rite make promises. If we were too young to take those promises on ourselves, our family, loved ones, friends, and the community took them on for us. Then in our Confirmation, we accepted them as our own. These include to proclaim the good news in word and deed, to serve all (people) following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. That is what our mission is, that is what it means to be a light to the world. A mission we were called into before our confirmation or affirmation of Baptism, before our Baptism itself, before our birth.
It is not an easy mission, and as a colleague said ‘shall we choose to accept it’, but on this day, January 16th (the third Monday of January), we celebrate a man, who yes was flawed in a personal sense but yet was a mouthpiece for God. He spoke a truth into our society that many did not and may not want to hear. He spoke to a vision of light that the United States could be, an image that sought for the example of (Jesus the) Christ for justice, for peace. That man was Martin Luther King Jr. We honor his words as he was a mouthpiece for God that we too can speak those truths into our world.
I have shared with people that I do not like being the center of attention and this seems to get even worse the older I get. It throws most people off because as I pastor I preach every Sunday morning in front of a group of people and now I have these summaries of what I have preached that goes out on cyber-space to be seen by how many people, who knows.
But yet, its not about me.
The Civil Rights movement was not about Martin Luther King Jr.
Jesus (the) Christ’s Baptism was not about John (the Baptist).
Hopefully, what all of us have done and are doing is speaking the words of God into our world. If not, hopefully our words are inspired by God or at least speaks to that mission.
Your mission, and my mission, and everyone’s mission shall we choose to accept it is to proclaim the good news in word and deed, to serve all (people) following the example (the light) of Christ, and to be that light striving for justice and peace throughout the earth. It is not an easy mission, but it is one that I pray we each live into more fully with each passing day. Amen.
The Scriptures were Isaiah 42:1-9; Isaiah 49:1-7; Matthew 3:13-17; and John 1:29-42.
The Sermon(s) are originally dated 2017 January 8 and 2017 January 15.