Handicap accessible restrooms are located in the basement. Elevator is available.
Candy made by the ladies of the church is available for purchase.
January 20, Sunday, 11:30. Annual meeting with potluck lunch, reports, and election of officers. If you are in charge of anything, please have an annual report.
January 20, Sunday, 5:00. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity prayer service at Lakeside United Methodist church.
Church Office Phone 419-798-4612 Rev. Kay’s Home Phone 419-333-0433
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to call Rev. Kay at the church or at home anytime.
If a level 2 or 3 snow emergency is in effect for Ottawa County as of 7:00 a.m. on any Sunday morning throughout the winter, church services will be canceled. Please check local news for declaration.
Remembering God's Promises
God, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, mark us with your image, and raise us to live our baptismal vows empowered by the Holy Spirit and the example of Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
On a mission from God
John always seems driven, like any man who's convinced that he's on a mission from God. He doesn't bother with careful or time-consuming "preparation for baptism" classes for these candidates; his entire curriculum seems to consist of fire-and-brimstone sermons.
And he doesn't decide whether or not the people are worthy, according to Renita J. Weems: he leaves the judging to Jesus and makes "no difference among them (Jew and non-Jew, rich and poor, elite and marginalized, women and men, Galilean and Bethanite, fishermen and tax collectors, fellow desert priests and members of the Sanhedrin)."
So John may be so consumed in his work that he might actually miss "the one who is to come," even when that One is standing right before his eyes.
Jesus, turning to a new direction
We don't know, of course, if the Jesus who appeared met his expectations: Barbara Brown Taylor draws a stark contrast between the "ax-wielding arsonist" John warns the crowd about in verse 17 and the "gentle carpenter whom the Holy Spirit chose for a roost" who shows up, along with the crowd, to be baptized.
Taylor describes the revelation that occurs in this scene in simple terms: Jesus "goes into the waters of the Jordan a carpenter and comes out a Messiah. He is the same person, but with a new direction. His being is the same, but his doing is about to take a radical turn." It's a subtle twist on the notion of "repentance," which means, of course, a turning away, taking a new direction. Jesus doesn't have to turn away from sin, but according to Taylor, he is turning now toward his ministry.
Why go to the wilderness?
Why in the world would those crowds, with Jesus among them, make the trek out into the wilderness to listen to a wild-eyed prophet warn them about fire and winnowing, and to let him drag them down into a muddy river to (ironically) cleanse them of their sins and mark a new beginning to their lives?
Richard Swanson is the most eloquent of those who describe the desperate and deep hope of the people in those days. He writes that John's preaching doesn't bring them out, but hope does, and he puts Jesus right in the middle of that "multitude of Jews who are all waiting for the promises they heard about from their grandmothers" in a time when "the sense of accumulated wrong is so powerful, the backlog of unkept promises so enormous, that the hopes coalesced into a focused question directed at John: Are you the messiah?"
Swanson often speaks evocatively of those grandmothers and their promises, and he also reminds us of the faithfulness of those, including Jesus, who "keep Torah, hold the world stable, and try to point to the goodness of God," even in the face (and under the heel) of one oppressor after another. Maybe they've heard about this powerful preacher, maybe they've heard that they can make a fresh start, maybe they're thinking that this might be the moment they have been waiting and longing for.
A scolding to get started
First, though, John yells at them. Or, as we might say, he pulls no punches in this sermon. One reason Luke tells this story is to make it absolutely clear to everyone, then and now, that Jesus, not John, is the messiah. This is obvious when John talks about "the one who is coming," who is "more powerful" than he is.
"Jesus has power," Stephen I. Wright says; "John has not." Wright notes that Luke wants to show that Jesus is in line with the traditions--the faith and deep hope--of his people, but Luke also wants to make clear how Jesus is different from the prophets who came before him.
Wright notes that Jesus is not just one more prophet in a long line of prophets. The people need to be prepared for the God of their ancestors, who has often acted in history, to do something "disruptive, uncomfortable, unexpected, and, above all, new," Wright says. Today we might say, "Fasten your seatbelts."
Who John is, who is he not
So John is not the messiah, and he yells at them, warning them about one who will come with a winnowing fork and a fire. Barbara Brown Taylor says: "Uh-oh, the people thought, knowing enough about what he meant to be afraid….it was going to hurt." And yet the crowds stay, and long enough to get down into the muddy river with him, getting ready for that one who is going to sort things out and purify them of their sins.
Bucket list below!