Worship at Home for Sunday January 9 2022

Dear Friends,

I hope that you had a blessed Christmas and New Year. The boys and I had a good trip to Florida during the holiday. While I was gone, the church council canceled church due to the weather. The announcement was made on Facebook, the church website and Chanel 5. As I was not home, I was unable to change the voicemail message at church to let people know that we would be closed. If you would like to be placed on a telephone tree to be informed that church will be closed due to weather, please let me know. Or you can sign up to receive messages on the website Home Page.

If you would like a home visit, conversation, or home communion, please call me at 573-437-2779 (church) or 573-832-2475 (cell).

Announcements:

  • Help is needed to take down the Advent and Christmas decorations.
  • Sunday School after worship
  • Church Council on Monday at 6:30pm
  • Bell Choir practice on Wednesday at 4:15
  • Choir practice on Wednesday at 6:30
  • Pick up your envelopes
  • Annual Congregational meeting on January 16
  • Grief Group to begin on Tuesday, January 18 at 7pm

Prayers and Blessings,

 

Pastor Stephanie DeLong

PowerPoint Slideshttps://s3.amazonaws.com/mychurchwebsite/c5232/0109_slides.pptx

 

Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 43:1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8:14-17, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
 

Sermon:

Advent and Christmas have passed. Epiphany when the magi followed the star to find the savior who was born is on January 6. Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany are mystical and magical events in the life of the church. So is the baptism of Christ which we celebrate today. The question for each of us is: How do these experiences change who we are?

During Advent Rev. Cameron Trimble shared this story in an email meditation:

Here is a story that never happened, but that doesn’t make it less true…

One night four rabbis were visited by an angel who awakened them and carried them to the Seventh Vault of the Seventh Heaven. There they beheld the sacred Wheel of Ezekiel.

Somewhere in the descent from Paradise to Earth, one Rabbi, having seen such splendor, lost his mind and wandered frothing and foaming until the end of his days.

The second Rabbi was extremely cynical: “Oh I just dreamed Ezekiel's Wheel, that was all. Nothing really happened.”

The third Rabbi carried on and on about what he had seen, for he was totally obsessed. He lectured and went on nonstop with how it was all constructed and what it all meant....and in his way he went astray and betrayed his faith.

The fourth Rabbi, who was a poet, took a paper in hand and a reed and sat near the window writing song after song praising the evening dove, his daughter in her cradle, and all the stars in the sky. And he lived his life better than before.

The question I asked myself after reading this story was, “How do I handle mystical moments?” Does the splendor of the moment make the rest of my life seem unimportant and dull? Do I deny that it happened? Do I discount the beauty of it? Do I try to overanalyze what happened? Do I praise God for the wonders of this world?

How we respond to the events in our lives makes a difference. Today as we reflect on baptism it is good to remember our own baptism and the story Jesus’ baptism. Who are we because of our baptism? How does my being baptized change me? How does it change those around us?

Water was and is an important part of ritual in Jesus’ time and our time. Water promises the washing away of what troubles us and opens the opportunity to change who we are. Many people came to be baptized with water by John the Baptist out in the wilderness as he preached by the Jordan river. Those who were baptized were seeking repentance and forgiveness. John’s message drew them. So much so that the people wondered if John was the messiah. John was every aware that he was not the messiah, but that he was preparing the people for the Messiah. John was creating a community that would be ready for the arrival of the messiah.

Luke tells us that when all the people were being baptized that Jesus was too. (Luke 3:21) I have always found it comforting that Jesus was baptized with all the other people. Jesus was human just like me with a need for ritual and belonging. Jesus then prays. Luke does not say what Jesus was praying about only that he prays. During the prayer the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit came down like a dove, a dive-bombing dove onto the physical form of Jesus. Then a voice from heaven declares, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22).

What a mystical experience! What a fabulous moment! I wonder how the people who witnessed it reacted. Did they discount it? Did they get jealous because they didn’t get a dove? Did they begin to create a community around Jesus? Did they start to sing praises to God?

Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts answer these questions as we learn more about the life of Jesus and the early church. Now we need to ask ourselves how do we respond to our own baptism? Do we forget that we were baptized? Do we crave a greater spiritual experience and get upset when we don’t get it? Do we seek to create community with other believers? Do we sing praises to God?

It’s probably a mixture of all the above. I think that Jesus’ praying is the best way to reflect on baptism. When we are confused, pray. The Spirit may not hit us like a dive-bombing dove, but the Holy Spirit may show up in surprising ways in our lives if we are looking for it. So, pray, praise and seek God in our lives as we remember our baptism.

One way to do this may be to use a Star word (for Epiphany) or Baptismal word (for the Baptism of Christ). This is a popular spiritual practice in which we are given a word to focus on for the next year like the magi focused on the star or that Spirit focuses on us during baptism. Included in this mailing you will find a slip of paper with a word on it. This word has been randomly (or possibly by the Spirit) selected to guide you this year. If you like, please share your word with me and how it affects your life.

Prayer:

Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit we lift up our hearts in prayer and praise. We give thanks that you love us and that we are precious in your sight. May we be inspired by the story of Jesus’ baptism to live out our baptism in community with praise and thanksgiving. Amen.

Prayer list: All who have been on our list in the past and Elizabeth, Cheryl, Peggy, Mindy, Dave, Ken and Evelyn, Jason, tornado victims and those who are struggling financially and emotionally.
 

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