Sermon: Jan. 11, 2009

13 01 2009

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

 

                                                 Mark 1:4-11

 

 

            You know, one of my favorite movies is the movie that is the comedy – Bruce, Almighty.  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, it tells the story of a TV Newsman named Bruce who is played by Jim Carrey.  Bruce is visited by God and is given the opportunity to be God.  Most of his life Bruce has complained about the problems in his life – how if he were God – things would be all together different – not just for him but for the whole world.  So God comes to Bruce one day and gives him the power – makes him God.  He can do whatever he wants – whenever he wants – to whomever he wants.  Of course, the movie careens off into one comedic moment after another.

            But it does pose an interesting question, doesn’t it.  What would you do if you were God?  If you had all the power and could make all of the decisions, what would you do?  Well, for me to start with Ohio State would win the National Championship every year.  The Brown would win the Super Bowl.  The Indians would win the World Series.  The Cavs would be NBA Champions.  But then after that – what would I do.  Perhaps bring about World Peace – end wars in the Middle East – put an end to the violence in the Gaza Strip – make Arabs and Israelis live in peace.  Perhaps I would end world hunger.  Put DZ@6 right out of business.  Cure every disease.  Heal every person.  Make every marriage and every family places of happiness and joy.  I think that would be a good start.

What would you do?  If you were God, what would you do?  Today is the Baptism of Jesus Sunday.  Today we are reminded of the Baptism of Jesus – that day when Jesus went to the Jordan River and found His cousin – that day when He asked John to baptize Him.  That’s the story that we heard in the Gospel of Mark.  And as the story goes – as He was coming up out of the water the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and the voice of God was heard declaring, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him.”

But, you know, this day is about more than just remembering a historical event – more than just remembering how Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by His cousin, John.  It really is a reminder of our own Baptism and what happened to us that day – what was given to us that day.  It reminds us that when we were baptized – just like when Jesus was baptized – that the Holy Spirit was given to us also.  Just like the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus when He was baptized.  So the Holy Spirit is given to each and everyone of us when we were baptized.  Just like the Holy Spirit will descend upon Gannon Myers who will be baptized at the 11am Service this morning.  That’s why in the Baptismal Service we say – child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. 

Now what is interesting about all of this is that this is the same Holy Spirit that is talked about in the Genesis – in that first lesson that we heard this morning.  One translation says – But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.  Did you hear that?       But the Spirit of God was moving over the water.  The same Spirit that God gives to each and everyone of us when we were baptized – that is the same Sprit that was involved in the creation of the world.  That Spirit is the very power of God.  And God gives you and me that same Spirit – that same Power.  Now what are we going to do with that Spirit?  What are we going to do with that Power?  Like Bruce, Almighty what are you going to do with the power of God – the Spirit of God – that is given to each and everyone of us.  That is now a part of each and every one of us.

Well, we can ignore it.  We can act like it doesn’t exist.  We can act like it is no big thing.  Or we can take that power that God gives us – we can take that Spirit that God gives us – and do something with it.  What are you going to do with it?

You could change your world.  Oh, now pastor, let’s not go overboard here.  Change the world.  One person can’t change the world.  One person can’t make a difference?  Tell that Paul or Peter.  Tell that Mary or Martha.  Tell that Mother Teresa.  Tell that to Gandhi.  It has always been one person.  One person armed with the Spirit.  One person armed with the power of God that has changed the world.  But, OK, let’s start small.  Let’s start with our corner of the world.  Let’s work on our marriages or our families.  Let’s start with our neighborhoods or our communities.  Let’s see the difference we can make – armed with the power of God – let’s see what we can do there – and then leave the rest up to God.

A couple of weeks ago I gave everybody a challenge.  I would like to repeat that challenge today.  Pick out a person in your life.  Somebody that you know.  Somebody that you care about.  Somebody.  And each day ask yourself what you can do for that person to make their life better – to change their life – perhaps to even bring them closer to their God – and then go about doing that.  Take the power of God that is within you and create a miracle.

 

My son is 4 years old and Christmas is a very magical time for children.  My son ran down the stairs very excited as most children are on Christmas morning and went straight for the gifts under the tree.  But, to my surprise, the first gift he grabbed was a gift he made for his father and me.   He stood there with anticipation, joy and patience as we opened our gift waiting to see the expression on ours faces. As I opened the gift, which was a hand-made wreath made of his small handprints (which is one of the best gift I received), I started to cry.   My husband leaned over and asked why I was crying.

I said I could not believe the thoughtfulness of this child and with all the gifts under the tree with his name on them, he was most excited about giving us the present he had made for us.  As a parent, I felt so proud of the child I am raising, knowing that he values other people and how they feel. That is actually the best gift I received for Christmas.

 If you were God, what would you do?  Well, now you got your chance.  What are you going to do with it?

 

Amen!

 

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