So Why Do We Celebrate Baptism the Way we do
Luke 3:10-14, 19-21
John the Baptist went through the whole district near the River Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. When all the people asked John “what must we do?” John answered, “if anyone has two tunics, then that one must share with the one who has none.” Tax collectors who came for baptism asked, “what must we do?” John answered, “take no more than the tax rate”. Soldiers who came for baptism asked, “what must we do?” John answered, “no intimidation, no extortion, be content with your pay”.
Now after the people had been baptized, Jesus, after his own baptism, was at prayer. While praying, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily shape, like a dove, and a
voice from the heavens was heard saying, “you are my child, my beloved, my favour rests on
So why do we celebrate baptism the way we do?
In the United Church, we have two sacraments Baptism and Holy Communion. We talked about
Holy Communion a few weeks ago. Now we talk about baptism.
Introduction: These words are recorded in the gospel of John as words Jesus offered to his followers just before his death.
And “Abba God” will give you an Advocate to be with you forever, that spirit of truth…and I will not leave you as orphans, I will come back to you. In a short time, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me because I live and you will live…I have said these things to you while still with you, but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom God will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give, a peace…this is my gift for you.
Introduction: The closing scenes of the gospel of Luke tell a story where a resurrected and rising Jesus, after the crucifixion and empty grave, takes final leave of this earth.
Then the Jesus said to them “This is what I meant when I said that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms had to be fulfilled.” Jesus continued to open their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that in the name of Christ repentance for the forgiveness of wrongdoing and sin would be proclaimed to all the nations. You are witnesses of this. And now I am sending down to you what God has promised so stay in the city until you are clothed with the power from on high.
These are stories from our ancestors in the faith
So why do we use inclusive language and follow a church year?
The events the “rising Jesus” predicted in the reading just read is described in the story at the beginning of the book of Acts, when this “clothing with a power from on high” happens. The writer describes these same followers being filled with the Holy Spirit and beginning to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.
This gift of speech was a gift of inclusive language.
So Why Do We Celebrate Holy Communion in the Way We Do
Jesus told the guests at the meal a parable because he had noticed how they picked the places of honour. Jesus said, “when someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take your seat in the place of honour. A more distinguished person than you may have been invited and the person who invited you both may come and say “give up your place to this other person”. Then to your embarrassment, you would have to go and take the lowest place. So when you are a guest, make your way to the lowest place and sit there…for whoever exalts self will be humbled and the one who humbles self will be exalted.
Then Jesus said to the host. “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not ask your friends, brothers, relations, or rich neighbours for fear they repay your courtesy by inviting you in return. No when you have a party, invite the poor, the disabled, and any who might not be able to pay you back because repayment will be made in the resurrection.
So why do we celebrate Holy Communion and, in particular, why do we have we adopted our particular approach and language to the sacrament of Holy Communion here at First United.
The wisdom of the Choral Anthem we just heard declares “the path is made by walking”. This is the same wisdom expressed by the existential philosopher Soren Kierkegaard when he noted that “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards” which is the same wisdom that inculcates our understanding of sacrament.
Sacrament is something experienced first and understood second, the path is made by walking. This principle undergirds our practice of sacrament. In other words, you don’t have to have it all figured out in order to participate. Sacrament is mystical and not intellectual.