Worship Preview 1.14.24 Baptism of Christ
This Weekend: 10:30am – Baptism of the Lord Sunday
Scriptures -Isaiah 42:1-9, Matthew 3:1-17 and 27:15-26
On Christmas we heard the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke…
On New Year’s Eve we heard Luke’s telling of Jesus’ Dedication at the Temple. Of Anna and Simeon singing his praise…
Last week we celebrated Epiphany – turning to Matthew’s account of the Magi and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – noticing how these gifts look ahead to Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. We paired that with another story of manifestation, wonder, and response with Philip’s baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch told in Acts 8. Drawn to God, the man asks Philip for help understanding and Philip – starting with the passage in Isaiah the eunuch was reading from, tells the story and proclaims resurrection. What, we asked along with the eunuch, is to prevent us from being baptized. We talked about Sacraments, in the United Methodist tradition Baptism and Holy Communion, others name more – all are “a visible and outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” A participation in God’s gift, enabling us to grow in faith.
Other than Luke 2’s brief story of Jesus in the Temple around the age of 12, we don’t have any stories of Jesus growing up. The gospel simply tells us he “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”
All 4 Gospels, however, start Jesus’ public ministry with his baptism. Jesus goes down to the Jordan, along with many from the region, to see his relative John. This week we will turn to Matthew’s account of this baptism, and we’ll ponder the meaning of this story. Jesus, the Word made flesh, doesn’t need forgiveness, so what is this baptism and how is he leading us through these waters? We’ll again pair this early story with a later one and consider Pilate’s response – he attempts to wash his hands of responsibility while nonetheless participating in Jesus’ death.
From there we will enact a ritual I first developed while in Seminary – called “3 Basins,” we will move from Pilate’s basin, reflecting on our own sinful choices, ratiionalizations and avoidance of responsibility. We will move to the Remembrance basin – remembering (or anticipating) our Baptism and the gift of God’s grace that surrounds and equips us, waiting for us to respond! Finally, we will visit the Servant’s basin – when we respond to the gift of grace, we grow in love and express that love in ministry. How are you called to ministry in 2024?
We encourage everyone to be safe as the artic temperatures descend on us this week – but if you’re able to be out and about we’d love to have to be a part of this special service. Technology willing, we will stream on Facebook live and post to YouTube. We will also have a recorded service on the radio at 1pm Sunday (although it is usually the prior week’s service due to time constraints in getting the audio to them). We wouldn’t cancel for snow but might if ice accumulates – check www.facebook.com/firstumcfortscott for the latest updates.
Wednesday, January 17th, 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at www.firstumcfortscott.org/onlinegiving
Thursday, February 8th – United Women in Faith will have their first meeting of 2024 on at 1:30pm in the Parlor. Jean Tucker will present a program and all women of the church and community are invited!
Wednesday, February 14th – Ash Wednesday falls on Valentines Day this year. All are welcome as we begin Lent with our 7pm service featuring imposition of ashes and some history on St. Valentine.