Sunday, January 14, 2007

By Water and the Spirit

Sermon January 14, 2007

Begin with a lullaby

- The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again

The spider in this story finds redemption. A new life, and a chance to begin again. Our scriptures today remind us that we have the same gift of life.

“Do not fear for you have been redeemed,” God tells the prophet.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The true power of this passage comes not in the hearing for Israel when told them by Isaiah, but for us when we see the reality of such things borne out in Jesus Christ.

God doesn’t leave it open to interpretation, but tells us exactly how the redemption occurs.

Look at the spaces in between. The lectionary does not cover verses 19-20 in Luke. Here we find the transition from the days of the prophets to the days of Jesus. In doing so Luke helps us make the same transition of redemption from water and fire to water and fire. Please be aware that when the waters come and the fire comes, God doesn’t say that they are not going to hurt or destroy, but that they will not overwhelm or consume us, due to God’s presence with us.

From water/floods by water/baptism. From fire by fire/holy spirit. –Peace comes upon us. God calls - soothes by voice, as in the lullaby, with reminders of God’s power: Use water fountain on chancel to calm/soothe. Use candles/flames for centering. The fact that God can and does do this shows just how big our God is.

Understanding the Bigness of God means looking beyond our normalized views. JB Philips writes “Do you think God understands RADAR?”

The question reminds me of a commercial naking its rounds on YouTube that shows a series of events in the future, that have not yet come into being, but someone had the imagination for them. God has an even bigger imagination than that.

(the YouTube posting is of a commercial by AT&T from 1993 found here

Do you think God understands the internet/computers, quantum physics? Look beyond the “old views of God to open your eyes to find the God of today, the needs that can be met with this congregation and these people in our community.

Understanding the redemptive largeness of God, also means accepting our fallenness and the need to repent.

What does it mean to personally repent and what does repentance mean to your life?

Not the who, but the what. In Luke we are told about the Baptism of Jesus, but not the where or who does this.

Our call to ministry is the same, it isn’t about who does the work, but what work is done in the name of the Lord.

John Westerhoff, used to say, “If you are a pastor who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects outside the congregation, you are probably wasting your time. We need you in the congregation equipping the saints for their demanding ministry in the world.”
On the other hand Westerhoff said to the laity, “If you are a layperson who is spending more than fifteen hours a week working in projects within the church, you are probably wasting your time. Your ministry consists not of running errands for the pastor but in sharing in Christ’s ministry in the world.”


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