Archive for October 2014

Baptism and the Body — Sunday’s Almost Here

October 11, 2014

ChurchSunriseWe’ve tried to learn what we can from John’s baptism, as well as John’s baptism of Jesus. Today I’d like to look at one more baptism story – the baptism of the first Christians at Pentecost, a day that many consider the Church’s birthday.

“‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’

“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:37-39).’”

If you’ve read the previous posts about baptism, you’ll recognize some familiar elements in this Acts account – repentance, forgiveness, the emphasis on Jesus, receiving the Holy Spirit, the focus on mission (i.e.“for all who are far off”). But there are a couple of new aspects as well. First, there is the fact that baptism and the Holy Spirit are offered not only to adult believers but to their children. (At other points in the book of Acts we read about whole households being baptized.) I’m not going to attempt to defend infant baptism to those who hold exclusively to what’s often called “believers’ baptism.” No matter how we understand the appropriate timing of baptism, all of us have to ask ourselves where children fit into the life of God’s people, his church, the covenant community. (more…)

Transformed and Transforming — Getting Ready for Sunday

October 10, 2014

Dove2At that moment heaven was opened, and he (Jesus) saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him” (Matthew 3:16).

So why a dove?

We’ve been talking about baptism, and what we can learn from John’s baptism as well as John’s baptism of Jesus. John talked about the Holy Spirit coming with fire. The apostles got fire too (i.e. the tongues of fire at Pentecost). So why did Jesus get a dove?

Actually, the dove is the clue that unlocks Jesus’ entire mission. (more…)

Jesus’ Baptism — Getting Ready for Sunday

October 9, 2014

Baptism of JesusYesterday we tried to see what we could learn about baptism from John’s baptism. Today I’d like to see what Jesus’ baptism, or John’s baptism of Jesus, may be able to teach us. I’m going to focus on Matthew’s account in Matthew 3:13-17.

Actually, I’ll start with the previous verse where John says about the coming Messiah, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” That’s a pretty graphic image, and not a little frightening.

But then what happens? “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.”

Instead of showing up with a winnowing fork, Jesus appears unarmed and empty-handed, and asks to be baptized. (more…)

John’s Baptism – Getting Ready for Sunday

October 8, 2014

JohnBaptizingThis coming Sunday our community will have the honor and blessing of baptizing the Smith’s baby daughter. Reformed churches, like most Protestant denominations, reserve the word “sacrament” for two community events – baptism and the Lord’s Supper (or communion). Recently we’ve begun a discussion about the Lord’s Supper, especially in the context of our current experiment of celebrating it weekly. We’ve discovered that many of us are confused about the meaning of this meal. I wonder if the same may be true about baptism. I thought that a good way for us to get ourselves ready for Sunday would be to do some thinking together about baptism over the next few days. (more…)