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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sermon 01132013 Epiphany 2 Baptism of Jesus

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the intimate connection of Water and Word, we have been baptized into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  Though our baptism pales in comparison to Jesus by John in the Jordan that we celebrate today, the promise made was foretold in the story of the Exodus of the people of Israel.  By God’s divine protection they walked through the waters on dry land protected by the Ark of the Covenant, in essence Your presence.  By our baptism we are now covered by our covenant relationship through Jesus Christ and made new creatures enabled to love, honor and serve as Christ serves and saves all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As a child growing up we would watch cartoons as entertainment and enjoyment.  Some of the cartoons that we would watch included “Road Runner”, “Bugs Bunny”, “Daffy Duck” and “Yogi Bear”.  As you know some of these cartoons have had resurgence with feature length movies or on television re-runs, but some because of the perception of violence have been changed or adapted to be ‘less violent’ or more family or culturally friendly.  Do you remember some of the cartoons that would either have the character ‘walk on air’ or ‘walk on water’?  For kids this is a magical mystery that it seemed only could occur on the big screen, television or in stories that would peak the curiosity and imagination of anyone listening.  Yet as we grew older we’d try these feats of screen legend ourselves and the reality would set in that this was only either a ‘Hollywood’ thing or it was the stuff of legend and was not possible.  Sometimes this was after broken bones or our feeling of being invincible and ‘walking on water’ or ‘flying off the roof’ like Superman or Spiderman.
Enter our Old Testament lesson this morning.  Joshua in writing how the Lord would fulfill His promise to give Canaan as an inheritance to Israel is telling of the crossing of the Israelite people across the Jordan River.  In a similar vein as the comics the story that Joshua tells is of a people who ‘walk on water’ or better and more aptly said, walk without their feet getting wet.  You see Joshua clearly is not telling something of legend or absent of reality, but truly telling the story of the people Israel and the promise that will be fulfilled by their God.

This promise Joshua is telling about is a connection for us from last week where we heard the promise of the Messiah and the coming of the three wise men.  In this mornings lesson we hear the covenant promise of God being with His people in the Ark of the Covenant.  For Old Testament people God made His presence known with His being and dwelling with the Ark.  Entrusted to the Levitical priests the Ark contained the stones that Moses brought from God that had inscribed on them the Ten Commandments or Laws from God.  The Levitical priests were the ones who carried the Ark during the entire 40 year journey in the wilderness.  They were the same group of men who set up the dwelling place of God, offered the sacrifices and were ceremonially clean and the representative of the people to God.  This line of priests extended from Moses time to Zechariah, who was the Father of John the Baptist as well as to Jesus Christ, the great High Priest.

With the divine promise of God’s presence with the people of Israel, Joshua tells what will occur when the Levitical priests feet touch the Jordan River.  Joshua says, “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.”  In essence a miracle will occur of epic proportions.  Since usually at this time of year of harvest the banks were over flowing, God would stop the flow of water.  It would not be by word of a person, it would not be a sign from the sky, but simply by the soles of the feet of the priest touching the water, that this miracle would occur.

Clearly this is a miracle that isn’t of little consequence.  God during the Old Testament time was very active with His people.  With the miracle of walking across on dry land as fulfilled in the sight of the people and with the priests feet who carried the Ark of the Covenant God was sending a clear message for us today.  God not only fulfills His promise, He constantly looks out for us and keeps us safe on a daily basis.  This covenant promise we remember even today.

With our celebration today of Jesus Baptism this is a covenant God makes with each of us the day we were baptized.  When the Water intimately connected with the Word of God is poured over our heads this is a remembering of not only the water being stopped that we heard about from Joshua, but a connection with the flood waters of Noah, the promise of the rainbow and especially the covenant promise of the Messiah that we celebrated on Christmas and last week of the three wise men.  God clearly and consistently makes covenants with His people and with us today and we are not only recipients of the covenant, but partakers of the grace offered to and for us.  The grace is of what God gives to each and every one of us, not only His Son in the manger, but also His precious Body and Blood that we received last week, but also the covenant promise of life and salvation for all of mankind.

We clearly have received great promises from God and been recipients of the covenant promises that God made with His people.  May we not only remember the stories and promises of the Old Testament people, but understand through our Baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection, we have been given eternal life through the water of life that we remember in our baptismal covenant.  For God’s promises are clear, He came into this world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  This is the promise made for all of mankind and especially for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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