Our January 10 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. All scheduled worship services until further notice will be online only with minimal in-person participation to reduce COVID-19 risks.
The January 17 Sunday worship service will be held without in-person attendance because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in our state. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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Sermon: January 10
Genesis 1:1-5 | Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7 | Mark 1:4-11
The Baptism of Our Lord Sunday:
What is important about this day? Well, it tells us that something new is being done by God! The old is passing away, and the new is breaking in. It fits with the overwhelming theme of this new Season of Epiphany, the season of God’s light breaking into the world. You can see that in Old Testament lesson for today from Genesis 1. It is God’s first word and act of creation, “Let there be light!” You could say that it’s his first move. It is. Now, in Christ, that same very light is being spread upon us anew.
With that light comes a new baptism. Notice in the Acts and Markan lessons, that there is a difference between John’s baptism and Christian baptism. John’s baptism is only preparatory. John’s job was to make ready for the coming of the Messiah. That came up just a few weeks ago during the Season of Advent. It is for the repentance of sins. Christian baptism is a whole lot more, like the forgiveness of sins. And, in Christian baptism, we receive something far greater than John can give, something which comes only from God. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit! If you’re a baptized Christian, yes you have it.
To be sure, if you look at Mark’s Gospel today, that is the first text where all three members of the Trinity are present at the same time, at Jesus’ baptism. The heavens open, the Holy Spirit descends upon him like a dove, and the Father’s voice declares, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” We will hear that again in the lessons on the Day of the Transfiguration at the end of the Season of Epiphany. Jesus’ baptism is foundational to our faith. But, what happens when we are baptized. In many ways, the same things happen to us, because we are joined to Christ in our baptism.
Baptism is a Sacrament. It is a means of God’s grace, just as the Lord’s Supper is. In it, we receive God’s grace. It is a once in a lifetime grace, which completely infuses our bodies, minds and spirits, down to every cell of our bodies.
Through baptism into Christ, we are received into His Church. That is why Paul baptizes the believers in Ephesus. They have been baptized into John’s baptism of repentance of sins, but not Christ’s baptism of forgiveness of sins. That is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, just look at the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is the actual forgiving of sin. So, through baptism we are incorporated into the Church, become one in the body of Christ, which is the Church.
That forgiveness, in our baptisms, the guilt of Original Sin is removed, as is the guilt of the sins we’ve committed to that point in our lives. Following baptism, the Lord’s Supper, as a Sacrament and Means of God’s grace, becomes a forgiveness of sins for us for those sins which we commit later, and reinforces the promises of our everlasting salvation secured by the work of Christ.
By being joined to Christ, by our baptism into him, we are joined to his death, and his resurrection. Although all that is living will die, the old will pass away. But death has no real power over us because of him. As death could not hold him, as he was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so too, ultimately, death has no hold over us. We belong to him. Through him, we receive the promise of eternal life with him, and the promise that nothing can take us from his hand. Why is this day important? Because we follow where he has led the way, we have become reflections of Christ to the world. You may not have heard it at your baptism, but as you were being raised up from the waters, the heavens opened once more, the Holy Spirit descended upon you, and the voice of God said, “You are my child, beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Rejoice, it is one thing in this world we can be certain of. Martin Luther believed it was the one thing of this life that he could be certain of; he was baptized, and the promises of it, through Christ.
Light and water, why are they important? For starters, because, they are both necessary for life. They are important parts to creation. Light is created in the first paragraph of Genesis, water is separated in the second. During the Season of Epiphany, we put an emphasis upon re-creation, and that re-creation takes place in us. When you put a seed in the ground to grow something, you had better have some water and light on hand, or nothing happens. To carry that analogy to its conclusion in terms of faith, or to quote Luther in the Small Catechism, “What does this mean?” We are the earth. The seed of faith has been planted in us. And to make it grow, we need to bask in the light of God’s Word, and soak in the waters of Christ’s baptism. Then, that seed of faith will grow, mature, bloom in time, and bear fruit to the Lord. How is that for allegorizing the text? But, it indeed makes sense in light of our faith, and in the waters of Baptism, as we celebrate this Baptism of Our Lord Day.