1/13/19 – The Spirit of God is upon me because….

Posted on : Jan 15th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Do you think this ancient story about the Baptism of Jesus has no meaning for us today? Well, think about this. Mary Luti, one of our retired UCC Seminary professors tells this story:
Seville, strolling in a plaza late on a breezy night. Everyone’s starting for home now except a grandfather, his son, and the son’s two boys. The adults talk while the kids kick a ball around. Soon the father tells the boys, “Time to go,” then turns to his own father, inclining his head. The old man extends a hand and says, “Dios te bendiga, querido hijo mío” God bless you, my dear son. They leave, grandfather in one direction, son and grandsons in the other. Watching, I can barely breathe. 
Family blessing is uncommon now, but it was once routine in Spain. A friend’s mother blessed all nine children every morning as they left for school. My friend, the youngest, was last in line. Impatient, she’d try to escape, but she got a blessing whether she wanted it or not. Her mother died when she was sixteen. She’s sixty now. She’s almost forgotten her mother’s face, but not the weight of her hand, the feel of her blessing. It floods her with peace. 
At his baptism, the Spirit rested on Jesus like a hand rests on your head. God blessed Jesus, saying, “You are my delightful Child.” That blessing bathed Jesus’ spirit like the river bathed his skin. All his life he drew on it like air for breath. Blessed like that, he could embrace a challenging life with joy and a violent death with hope. The power of that blessing raised him from the dead. 
Not everyone gets to hear that they’re worth everything to someone. How many died of AIDS without their parents’ blessing, without the church’s blessing, and, the church told them, without God’s? What a difference the truth would have made—”You are the apple of my eye. Your name is engraved on the palm of my hand.” 
If blessings bestowed enliven and blessings withheld destroy, why aren’t we staying up nights composing blessings for each other? Why aren’t we saying to everything, “God bless you,” all the time?

Bless you, bless me, bless everyone, bless everything, O God, this day and forever. Amen. Summary: Not everyone gets to hear that they’re worth everything to someone.


Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.

And so, we move into the new year open and ready for a blessing so that we may be a blessing to others; and yes, you are uniquely loved and valued here at West Hollywood Church.
God Bless You!

Mark 1: 4-11

Mark tells of Jesus’ baptism by John.
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 beloved Child; with you I am well pleased.”


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