January 10, 2021

Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

“Beginning with you”

It seems appropriate to me that every calendar year begins, in the Christian churches, with reading and reflecting on one of the stories about the day that Jesus was baptized. And this year, in Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary, we focus on the Gospel of Mark’s account of the baptism, where for Mark, this was truly the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

Our Church Year does begin in late November or early December with the anticipation of the Messiah’s coming, and at Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ birth into our world to become Emmanuel, God-with-us. But while we find those birth narratives in Luke and Matthew, Mark simply begins with Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by John. For Mark’s community, the baptism was the key moment when Jesus was divinely chosen, adopted, and sent to be God’s living presence in the world. The Gospel writer describes it as “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)

I know that we are already 10 days into our new calendar year. And those of you who made New Year’s resolutions may have them well in-hand, or perhaps you’ve already given up on … Read more »

January 8, 2012

Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” Well into the Book of Acts and the story of the early Christian Church, the Apostle Paul passed through a particular region and came to the city of Ephesus, where he found some disciples. Paul asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” And they replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

It’s probably a reasonable assumption to expect that there is no one here today who has not heard that there is a Holy Spirit. Some of you may be intimately acquainted with the Spirit, having experienced its working in your lives. Perhaps it was a nudge you felt pushing you to do something for God’s mission. Maybe it was a peace that you experienced despite the fear and stress associated with a crisis in your life. Or perhaps you knew that the Holy Spirit was surrounding you when you simply had the sense that God was near and that you were not alone.

We have an advantage, compared to the first small group of Christians in Ephesus, and that advantage is that … Read more »