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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

I Have Called You By Name; You Are Mine

Now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  Isaiah 43: 1-2

Is there any thing in the world so heart warming and priceless as the feeling of belonging?  I've always thought that it was a wonderful thing that I am a part of something greater (like the human race) - and that in the billions of people alive at this time, there are those who call me friend: I belong in their merry company.

Everyone who has been baptized is also chosen and redeemed by the Living God, adopted into a family that stretches from the institution of the sacrament through the present into the distant future.  We are members of one VERY extended family.  Although we are adopted through grace and the Spirit, we are known simply as the children of God (not God's adopted children).  Created by the Creator, loved from our existence, we have the opportunity to go through our time in this world doing things that bring joy to all members of our family.  We are given the choice of doing well or ill by each other.  If I can keep in mind that no stranger is a complete stranger to me, no person is an outcast from God's love,  it seems easier to fulfill the 'golden rule' of loving God and neighbor.

I have been redeemed and so have you; we are worthy of respect, happiness and fullness of life without fear.  Amen and Amen.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Focus: The Water's Fine

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

With the Baptism of Jesus our calendar year and our liturgical year are off to a powerful start. Every Baptism fulfills the hope of new life in Christ. Every baptized infant, every eager convert is a potential Aquinas or Augustine, a Mother Teresa or a Florence Nightingale. Every Baptism refreshes the vigor of the Body of Christ. This week’s gospel re-introduces us to the wellspring of this grace – Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan and the promise of our own Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Through Baptism Christ claims us for his own. We are with him and of him from the manger to the miracles, from the Nativity to the Resurrection … then, now and for all time to come. That is the power of Baptism… a massive infusion of grace, transforming our short, self-centered mortal lives into an infinite continuum of earthly and heavenly life as the blessed and beloved children of God. But Baptism has its obligations along with its privileges. It was never meant to create a body of cruise-control Christians, completely indistinguishable from our secular neighbors. Through Baptism we are given ready access to God’s grace. It is there for the asking. But it is not a get-out-of-jail card for us to horde, to squander or neglect as our whim would have it. Baptism is a life-long commitment to Christ; to follow him in all things, to witness his love; to openly believe in the face of sinicism and scorn.

Grace is not cheap. It was bought and paid for by the life and death of Jesus Christ. We are not only cleansed and revived by the waters of Baptism, as Revelations tells us: we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. Baptism literally means “immersion.” In Christ we die to sin; we plunge into the waters of Baptism and we re-emerge spiritually resurrected and re-born, setting out confidently on the road to salvation.

The recipe for all these wonders is not: say a few prayers and just add water, and throw into the Holy Spirit Easy-Bake oven! It requires embracing a life created by the Father, redeemed by the Son and consecrated by the Holy Spirit. The life we have been given by God is given back to him in Baptism. We are Christians. We are his people. We follow him in all things. We are not too shy, too cool or too politically correct to proclaim him publicly every chance we get.

Francis Thompson, creator of the haunting “Hound of Heaven,” wrote of the joy of living refreshed and renewed in God’s grace: “It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of Baptism, to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief.” Every day Jesus invites us to take this plunge, to recreate our newly baptized selves, to follow him with renewed confidence and energy. Come on in. The water’s fine.

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