January 10, 2016: Illuminations: I need to know I am loved

Posted on : Jan 7th, 2016 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

I’m on a roll. Sunday I was talking about how God watches over our “going out and our coming in.” Mark, our pianist, was so moved by that sermon that he got locked in the church and low and behold, God watched over him and got him out with five minutes to spare for his next obligation, which was accompanying a recital. Whew!

Then I had a little conversation with God about this Sunday’s theme: Baptism. I said, “God, I know you don’t do weather, but a little rain would sure be nice – just to set the mood for baptism.” And look what happened.

Sometimes in our quest to be Christian, we make the simplest things too complex or we over-think, making simple truth way too complex.

About a year ago, Lutheran pastor and author Nadia Bolz Weber was interviewed on the radio program “Fresh Air.” She mentioned the earnest seminarian who at one of her speaking engagements asked, “Pastor Nadia, what are your ways, your spiritual practices, for getting closer to God?”

“Why would I want to get close to God,” responded Nadia. “Whenever Jesus gets close to me I end up having to love someone I hate, give away more of my money, or forgive someone I don’t want to forgive.” She went on to say that in her life it feels more like “God has come after me.”

We do often seem to think of the Christian faith as our human search for God, our feeble attempt to get close to God. The Bible tells a different story, one more in line with Pastor Nadia’s experience: the story of the God who keeps showing up, intruding, refusing to leave us alone, searching for us. A God who won’t take “no” for an answer. A God who loves us even when we can’t imagine God doing such a thing.

A few months ago I had an Illumination. Maybe we have this Baptism-thing backwards. Maybe Baptism isn’t about sin as much as it is about love. Maybe it isn’t about our attempt to get close to God; maybe it’s about God loving us.

How did our life and faith story get so messed up that we even think about whether God loves us or not? We’ll explore that on Sunday.

Blessings, and may the rain remind you of the Holy Spirit raining down upon you – just as it did on Jesus at his Baptism in the River Jordan.



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

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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