149: Baptism of Christ (Jan. 10, 2016)


149 for Sunday January 10, 2016, Baptism of Christ, C

Image by Chad Kainz
Featured Musician - “Amanda Opelt, “Snow” from her album Seven-Songs, the soundtrack to her sister, Rachel Held Evan’s book Searching for Sundays.

Episode 149 , First Sunday after Epiphany, Year C- (January 10, 2016)

Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 149 for Sunday January 10, 2016 the first Sunday after Epiphany or the Baptism of the Lord Sunday, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Thinking about Lent
  • Thursday Night Special with Sarah Bessey, author of “Jesus Feminist,” and “Out of Sorts.”

Quick-Fire Scripture: Acts 8:14-17, Peter and John go to Samaria

  • Literary Context:

    • Last major event was the stoning of Stephen, as found at the end of chapter 7.
    • In response to this persecution, the apostles spread. Instead of cowering in fear, they scattered, which actually helped spread the good news (Princess Leia to Tarkin ‘- the tighter you squeeze, the more systems will slip through your fingers’).

      • Response to trouble - God did not cause the persecution, but God was able to make something good come from it.
    • Philip preaches in Samaria, converts a magician named Simon.

      • Samaria not friendly neighbors
      • Fulfilling Christ’s command to preach to “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  • As a supplement to baptism, this brings up a lot of questions. It says that the new believers of Samaria had been “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but had not yet received the Holy Spirit.

    • What is the place of baptism, if not for the receiving of the Holy Spirit? How are Holy Spirit and baptism related?
    • Did they not do it right? Baptized in name of Lord Jesus not enough? John and Peter didn’t re-baptize, though.
    • What is the context of Laying on of Hands? And what place does it have in our churches?
    • When we take in new members, anoint ministers, confirm young people, baptize infants and/or adults? What place does the laying on of hands take?
    • Why did John and Peter have to go?
    • What does it mean to ‘receive the Holy Spirit?’
    • Mark Stenberg wonders, Is this some sort of Christianity graduate school?

      • Hardest Question: If throughout the Book of Acts “receiving the Holy Spirit” is most certainly a different, second move from mere faith or believing or even baptism, has the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement discovered the true meaning of the Christian faith??

Featured Musician - “Amanda Opelt, “Snow” from her album Seven-Songs, the soundtrack to her sister, Rachel Held Evan’s book Searching for Sundays.

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  • TY to newest donor Aimee Goldmeyer

Gospel Reading:  Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, John baptizes Jesus
Initial Thoughts

  • Do we really have to talk about JBap more?
  • We just covered this in Advent 3, somewhat. Advent 3 Luke 3:7-18 leads us up to the cusp of baptism.
  • Lectionary leaves out from both readings the trouble John gets into with Herod.

    • Maybe not a bad idea to leave out this sidebar. Although there are interpretative gems there that include warnings for those who mess with Herod. Lets us know that John goes to prison for speaking truth to power. For those protesting with Black Lives Matter movement, this could be a powerful word.

Bible Study

  • 15-17 John is not Messiah

    • Important to differentiate between John and Jesus.
    • He will baptize with “Spirit and Fire” can also be seen as “Wind and Fire” “Wind and fire were symbol for the Holy Spirit, the powerful presence of God, but also of judgment. Farmers poured wheat from one container to another on a windy day, or tossed the wheat into the air with a fork or shovel so that the chaff would be blown away, leaving the grain clean. The chaff burned with explosive combustion. To this day, farmers know that a fire in a dry wheat field cannot be contained or controlled… When repentance and forgiveness are available, judgment is good news. The primary aim is to save the wheat, not to burn the chaff” (Fred Craddock, Interpretation,p 49)

      • Wind and Fire are a dangerous pair, but also useful.
      • Fire is destructive, but also cleansing, purifying, and strengthening.
    • This passage does not mean - “Jesus is coming to send you to hell.”

      • Not about separating the saved and unsaved - but separating within us the chaff that needs to be burned away so that the wheat of our lives may remain.
      • Baptism is of repentance - to turn away from what keeps us from God, and toward the fruit of the Spirit - forgiveness, generosity, kindness.
  • 20-22 Jesus and all the people baptized

    • Not a private affair.
    • Holy Spirit comes while Jesus prayed, after his baptism. This separation of Holy Spirit and baptism is not widely discussed, but is also shown in Acts.

      • Matthew and Mark tie Holy Spirit to coming out of the water.
      • All three have Holy Spirit ‘like a dove.’ Only Luke says “in bodily form”
    • All agree: “beloved son” and “well pleased.” Differ on third or second person. Luke, the whole thing is in second person “You are my beloved son. With you I am well pleased.’
    • Jesus is named “My Son.”
    • Jesus is described “Beloved.”
    • Jesus has Holy Spirit descend upon him before he begins his ministry.
  • Immediately next in Luke is genealogy, which traces back to Adam.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 29 Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

The Pulpit Fiction Podcast is brought to you in part by audible. For listeners of Pulpit Fiction, Audible is offering a free 30-day trial and get a free audio book simply by going to audibletrial.com/pulpitfiction. There are a ton of books, over 180,000 titles to choose from, including some great works by friends of the show Peter Rollins, Adam Hamilton and Nadia Bolz-Weber. We recommend a new book by Sarah Bessey called Out of Sorts. We are hoping to interview Sarah in January, so you can download it now and be ready for another great Thursday Night Special! Get it for free at audibleTRIAL.com/PulpitFiction. Again, support the show by going to audibletrial.com/PulpitFiction to start your free 30-Day trial and get a free audio book download.
Second Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7, God redeems Israel
Initial Thoughts

  • A non-baptism Baptism text

    • Defines God’s relationship with us using water and fire
  • Universalized the love of God in a different way from Baptism which is too often exclusive

Bible Study

  • Second Isaiah - written for the exiles in Babylon as a message of redemption and hope

    • Does not ignore the transgressions of Israel, but God refuses to define Israel by their failures
  • Intimate and imminent connection with God

    • Often God is places into the realm of transcendence, but Isaiah's vision of God here is relational and personal: a God who makes us in God’s own image, who forms us from the dust of the earth, who calls us by name and claims us as God’s own- all of these actions are the actions of an involved and imminent and personal God
  • Creator and Redeemer

    • Too often these attributes of God are separated: God the Creator and Christ the Redeemer, but here creation and redemption are inextricably linked
    • God creates us, forms us, knows us, redeems us, calls us and claims us - and there is nothing we can do about it.
  • Redemption - during the time of Israel meant to be saved out of bondage by a family member

    • see Leviticus 25:47-49
    • God claims us as part of the divine family through redemption
  • Water, Rivers and Fire happen - God does not promise freedom of the woes of the world

    • God’s promise is not release from suffering and pain, but accompaniment through the waters, through the rivers and through the fire
    • Fire, waters, river - these never have the last word.
    • Waters evokes images not of small baptismal fonts but of the Red Sea and the Jordan River - faith changing, nation forming moments of salvation through waters which should have meant death
  • W. Carter Lester, Feasting on the Word

    • This passage is about rediscovering our identity:
    • Whose are we? God’s
    • Who are we? a people values, held precious, honored and loved by God
    • What about our many sins? Nothing can separate us from God’s love for we are redeemed.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • Baptism is as much about belonging as it is about salvation. How can we use baptism to welcome or re-assure people that the church is a place where they belong- no matter who they are or what they have done?
  • Diana Butler Bass has done much work on the need for belonging in the church. It is easy to be confused about who and whose we are. Who is the church? Whose is the church?
  • Explore verse 4: What does it mean for someone to be precious in your sight? Or honored? or valued? What does it mean to accompany people and walk with them through water and fire?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners!
David Sellers”
Hi guys,love the show. I think your link for mental illness and the church is marvelous. I’m a Spiritual Director at a treatment center and a Recovery pastor in the UMC. One site that I’d suggest to add is National Association for Christian Recovery.
Thanks for all you do.

Featured Musician - Amanda Opelt, “Snow” from her album Seven-Songs.

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”)