January 8, 2023- Baptism of the Lord/Human Relations Day (Next Sunday)
A Moment for Mission
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."- Matthew 3: 16-17, NRSV
Water is everywhere. It covers over 70% of the planet! Water comes in every form as it flows, freezes, evaporates, and then condenses once again. Such a simple thing.
Yet, it contains immense power.
Rivers snake and curve as they erode their banks. Ocean tides rise and fall, determining maritime schedules. Snow and ice bring joy to some and headaches to others as people are forced to slow down and become more aware.
Clearly, water helps create change in our world and, not so surprisingly, within ourselves. Jesus’ baptism was the beginning of His earthly ministry. His immersion in the water was a recognition that it could cleanse and renew, allowing for a changed life where God’s will could be revealed.
Through our baptisms, we are renewed and made one in Christ. God, through the water, calls us to a shared ministry that brings healing, hope, and salvation to a broken and hurting world. We recognize that our God loves ALL of His children and that each one is made beautifully and fearfully in His image.
As water works within us, we called to work within the world to share the refreshing Good News of Jesus Christ, bridging the gap between the Church and our communities. Across the United Methodist connection, we engage in Connectional Giving— combining our resources and gifts across the denomination — and recognize that we can do so much more together than we can apart.
Next week is Human Relations Day, where we celebrate our connection to one another and support ministries that build people up and make communities stronger. Giving today helps us take our baptismal covenant to a new level to build a “beloved community” through faith-based volunteer programs, community developers, and programs that work with at-risk teens.
The power of the Holy Spirit in the water at your baptism lives inside you. Use it today and give to help build a world where all can achieve their God-given potential.
Who likes the water? What’s your favorite water activity? (Swimming, diving, kayaking, canoeing, etc.)
Next time you’re out on the water, stick your hand in and you’ll feel it moving all around your fingers. It’s a cool feeling. Water is powerful, right? It keeps us hydrated- which is a fancy word meaning it keeps our bodies working. Water helps us grow plants so we can keep our bellies full and happy. We use it to make electricity to power our devices. It also helps keep us fresh and clean.
Jesus might not have known all about water creating electricity, but he knew that water was powerful and could help change us and the world. That’s why he asked John to baptize him. Do you remember what happened after Jesus came up out of the water? (Wait for answers)
Guess what? God does the same thing for us! When we’re baptized, it’s a reminder that God loves us and that He wants us to share that love with people around us. Maybe a dove didn’t appear when you were baptized, but the Holy Spirit was definitely there, and now that power lives inside of you! How awesome is that??
I want you to remember that you’re made in God’s image and that, together, we’re supposed to show Jesus’ love and joy to our friends and family (Pass out small mirrors). Pull this mirror out daily and look closely. When you see yourself, I want you to say, “God made me in His image. He loves me. I have the power!” Let’s try that right now!
Children’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for water. We know you use it to show us love and remind us that we’re your children. Help us to share that love with others this week and remember that, just like the water, we have the power to change the world. Amen!
Transforming God, we remember our baptisms and the power in the water that cleansed us, claimed us, and called us. Through the water, we are made one with Jesus in mission and ministry to the world. Take these tithes and offerings and multiply them, so we might build up communities with Your Hope, Love, and Joy. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: God of the water that cleans us, the land that feeds us, and the air that allows us to breathe your Spirit in and out of us; you claim us in our baptism, but too few of us even remember our own baptism. And if we remember (or imagine) our baptism, we too rarely grasp its meaning and power. As we present our tithes and offering in worship and witness Christ’s baptism once again, may we remember that in that water we were, like Christ, commissioned to go: to teach, preach, heal, and even to take up a cross. In Christ, we pray. Amen.
Jesus’ baptism displays to us how God uses water to change our lives and change the world. We know we are made one with Christ through our baptism as we go out into the world to share His love with those who need it most. Because God is generous with His love and grace for us, we have the chance to be generous with our spiritual and financial gifts.
Opportunities to make the world a better place exist all around us, whether they’re down the street or across the ocean. As United Methodists, we are connected to one another in ministry and mission. Connectional Giving— combining our resources and gifts across the denomination— shows that we recognize that our accomplishments are so much more fruitful when we come together. This kind of giving is helpful for us to be spiritually healthy and committed people of God.
Next week is Human Relations Day. By giving today, we join other UMC congregations in supporting neighborhood ministries that empower people with much-need resources, allowing them to reach their full potentials and know they are beloved children of God. Give today and share the gift of Jesus’ transforming love!