If so, John and Jesus call us to 'repent' to turn around and to look for God's presence and purpose on the margins of our communities. It's not easy being part of a renewal movement, as Jesus discovered out there in the wilderness, right after his baptism, when he experienced multiple temptations to his faithfulness to his call and his sense of who he was.
Jesus knows what we experience, and that must be why he waded down into the water and wandered in the wilderness. What will help us remain faithful to our own call?
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Dean Lueking tells the story of an anxious Martin Luther, the Reformation leader, "as he struggled through the lonely months of his safekeeping in the Wartburg Castle. Of the many things written about this text, Frank Yamada's words may pull all this together the best, this remembering and renewal, this power and risk and belovedness, reminding us that "[t]he Spirit moves in and out of our busy lives, and there are times when I recognize the Spirit's hovering presence beckoning all to a different order, to a new creation.
As I reach for the water, whether in a font or on the ocean's edge, I find myself trying to connect to the chaotic, life-giving and mysterious power that resides in its depths. My soul has grown deep like the rivers'" The Christian Century There is perhaps no more meaningful experience in the life of a pastor than the act of baptism, when we pour living waters over the one to be baptized, placing a hand on their head and pronouncing the words, "The Holy Spirit be upon you, child of God, disciple of Christ, member of the church.
This bond shapes us as a community: one United Church of Christ pastor introduces a newly baptized person to his congregation by saying, "In this family, water is thicker than blood. What would happen if we saw ourselves as created for God's glory Isaiah ? The Rev. Kathryn Matthews matthewsk ucc. Julian of Norwich, 14th century "And thus I understood that any man or woman who deliberately chooses God in this life, out of love, may be sure that he or she is loved without end Some of us believe that God is almighty and may do everything, and that [God] is all-wise and can do everything, but that [God] is all love and shall do all, that we fail to see.
Lao Tzu, 6th century B. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, 20th century "Water is life's mater and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.
Billy Graham, 20th century "One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America.
Liturgy Training Publications "When the convert emerges from the water, the world seems changed. The world has not changed, it is always wonderful and horrible, iniquitous and filled with beauty. But now, after baptism, the eyes that see the world have changed. Anne Lamott, 21st century "Sometimes grace works like waterwings when you feel you are sinking.
Jan Richardson, 21st century "That the small-g graces flow out from Big Grace and come to meet us in the midst of our daily life, helping us know we are beloved and inspiring us to respond in love to an often graceless world.
- Your New Identity in Jesus Christ!
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Marilynne Robinson, 21st century "Well, but you two are dancing around in your iridescent little downpour, whooping and stomping as sane people ought to do when they encounter a thing so miraculous as water. Weekly Seeds is a United Church of Christ resource for Bible study based on the readings of the "Lectionary," a plan for weekly Bible readings in public worship used in Protestant, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches throughout the world. When we pray with and study the Bible using the Lectionary, we are praying and studying with millions of others.
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No public profile Sign out. Follow unitedchurch on Twitter. Subscribe with RSS. Weekly Seeds. January 07, Written by Kathryn Matthews. Focus Reading: Mark John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. How does a sense of who and whose we are come alive in baptism?
How often do you think about your baptism? When you do, do you imagine yourself as beloved? How would you see baptism differently if it meant being baptized into a renewal movement? What does baptism mean to you? Reflection: by Kate Matthews When you enter the beautiful Amistad Chapel at the Church House, our national offices of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, the first thing you encounter is a font of swirling water, on a stone floor with wavy lines going out "to the ends of the earth.
Your New Identity in Christ
Power, risk and drama Our stories about water, even at its best, have a kind of power and risk and drama. Sensing troubled waters However, the drama, power and risk are not so much associated with the story of Jesus being baptized in the River Jordan. Living as a Christian changes our identity, but it doesn't usually happen overnight.
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What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
go site For those of you who wear glasses-how did you come to realize you needed glasses? Read Colossians and share why you think God wants us to set our sights on God and heaven and not of the things on the earth? How come it is so easy to forget about heaven? Make a list of where you think that most people go first to get help. Then Read Psalm and share where the psalmist thinks we need to go and why. Read Colossians and share from this list why it is so difficult to stop these actions. Which one best describes your typical response to sin, and why? We have received the hope of spending eternity with God.
When we are in Christ, these aspects of our identity can never be altered by what we do. Often times, however, a gap exists between intellectually knowing these truths about who God says we are and living them out. This can be affected by how we see ourselves, life experiences, and the ways we allow the world to define us. In order to live out of the fullness of our new identity in Christ, we must determine what is hindering us from doing so, which varies from person to person.
Many times, a false belief has wedged itself between how God defines us and seeing ourselves in the same light. You then create and live out of an identity based on your actions, which is contrary to how God sees you. In order to fight against these false beliefs, we must discover the exact belief we are allowing to form our identity. When reflecting on the passage in Ephesians 1, some false beliefs we may live out of are:. Living out of one of those identities opposed to our new identity in Christ then affects our behaviors. Then replace the lie with truth found in Scripture.
Sometimes the lie is connected to a very real, painful experience.
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Take some time to grieve over the experience and invite God into the place of brokenness. After you have surrendered the lie over to God, pray that He will help you believe the truth about who He says you are, and make you aware of the times you are not believing it. Then, make the choice to believe it! This is where faith comes in.
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. God has given us everything that we need to demolish strongholds or false beliefs, and he empowers us to do so. If we lived out of an identity based on how God sees us, we would no longer feel the need to find our worth in our external circumstances.