Sunday, January 9, 2022

Baptism of The Lord / Luke 3:21-23 “Soul Reset”
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Lord of Hope and Light, in the midst of Darkness you offered light to people who lived in fear. Today that light comes to us as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Open our hearts this day and remind us that you have marked us as people of hope and light. Amen.
We have been observing Advent and Christmas and last Sunday was another holiday that we call Epiphany. It is the day we remember that wise men came from a very long distance to give Jesus some extra special gifts – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. We will begin a new series this month, but before we move on, I want to invite you to reflect on the scripture of Epiphany as well.
The wise men who traveled great distances to offer their gifts to the newborn Christ-child were responding to the gift given to them, the Baby Jesus. The star led them to Jesus, and they followed. They received God’s gift, then offered their gifts to Jesus in response.
I hope you got some great Christmas gifts, but sometimes the best gifts we can give or receive are not things we can see, smell or touch like if you think the best gift is your family gathering together, or whatever you feel blessed with. As we remember the arrival of the wise men, their offerings to Jesus, and the star that led them, I think this is a gift for each of us. a Star Word. We sent this star word in the communion bag last year, and I invited you to reflect on the word for the year. It is a spiritual practice that we can do constantly for a year to listen to God through a simple word as we are reminded that we are called to follow God’s star every day.
You should have received a Star Word when you walked in. If you didn’t receive one, please take one when you leave. If you are online, it will be sent out to you via email or mail. Once you receive it, you can hang it up where you will see it every day, maybe on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator, or by your back door. You might want to look up the meaning of your word and talk about it with your friends or family… The word is for yours for this whole year of 2022. It is something God invites us to be, and something we can be when we follow God. I hope your Star Word will help you think about how God is with you every day, God speaks to you every day and God gives you special gifts, even thru just one simple word.
Once we get used to this practice, at the beginning of the next year, I hope we can share how you have noticed God at work, how God has led you through the word.
Expecting to hear from God through your star word throughout this new year, this morning we hear from God through baptism. Through the baptism of Jesus, God says to Jesus, “You are my Son”. Before Jesus was Joseph’s son, Jesus was always God’s son. For us as well, we belong to God first, before any of our earthly relationships began. And this belonging in our relationship with God is not that God is possessive. Rather tells us about God’s unconditional love and freely given grace. Jesus is God’s son and called ‘the Beloved’. Before Jesus has even begun his ministry, God calls Jesus “the Beloved, with whom he is well pleased.” So, for us also, God’s love does not need to be earned. It is just who we are.

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