The following message to First Presbyterian Church was posted on March 19, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to suspend gathering together in-person for worship and other church activities.
Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “I will be with you” I love remembering my baptism. Next year it will be 30 years since I was baptized, and I still remember it as such an important moment in my life of faith. I remember standing up at the front of a church very much like this one. I remember reciting the words of the Apostles’ Creed that I had studied and memorized in my preparation. I remember the droplets of water on my forehead. And I remember the choir turning and singing over me: “The Lord bless you and keep you…” just like we sing to one another each Sunday here at First Church. On this Sunday, when we hear again the story of Jesus’ baptism by John, we are invited to remember our baptism and give thanks to God. Of course, you may not literally remember your baptism. You may have been an infant or a young child when you were baptized. It was your parent, or guardian, or grandparent who made a public profession of faith, and promised to teach you about Jesus and nurture you in the Christian way of life. But regardless of whether or not you literally remember that moment, you are invited today to remember your baptism… to remember its meaning and significance, and to remember how it continues to shape your life and faith today. When we got talking about the meaning of baptism in our Bible study earlier this week, I pointed out … Read more »
Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “Be Not Afraid” Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest. I can’t remember when I first heard that song based on this morning’s passage from the prophet Isaiah, but I remember that I was moved and encouraged both by the words and the melody. In the midst of the challenges of life, whatever has the power to make us afraid, the prophet assures us that God goes before us. Through the words of the prophet Isaiah, God says to us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Perhaps you can remember a time when you were afraid. I am thinking of the day many years ago that I discovered a small lump in my breast. I am remembering the time of waiting and worrying before I got the results of the ultrasound. Maybe you are thinking of a similar experience, when your life was in danger or you thought it might be. Maybe you are remembering a time when someone you loved was in trouble, when you feared for their safety, when you were afraid of losing them. Sometimes I think that the scariest thing about these experiences … Read more »
Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 “The Meaning of Baptism” Have any of you been baptized? How many of you were baptized when you were infants or young children? How many of you were baptized as teenagers or adults? How many of you were baptized with water being sprinkled or poured on your head? How many of you were baptized by immersion in a pool or lake or river? How many of you have brought your own children for baptism? How many of you can remember witnessing a baptism and welcoming a child, or young person, or adult into the church community? Well, there is certainly a lot of experience of baptism here in our church today! Although we don’t have a baptism to administer today, we are celebrating the Sunday called, “Baptism of the Lord,” remembering Jesus’ own baptism by John in the Jordan River, and thinking about the meaning and significance of our own baptism. Baptism is a very important practice in our Christian Faith, one of two sacraments that we celebrate – Baptism and Holy Communion. In the order of sacraments, baptism is first. It is the sacrament of initiation – a rite that marks our entrance into the Christian community. If you go to Europe and take note of many of the historic churches, they often have baptisteries – smaller buildings just outside the churches – where new Christians would have been baptized. Baptisms took place outside the churches, and then the newly initiated were welcomed into … Read more »
Isaiah 43:16-21 Psalm 126 Philippians 3:4b-14 John 12:2-8 The St. Andrew’s choir, under Gill’s direction, is practicing one of my favourite anthems to share during the Good Friday service in a couple of weeks. I’ve been carrying both the melody and the words of the song around in my head recently. It goes like this: Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down.Here I am to say that you’re my God. You’re altogether lovely,altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me. Although Mary of Bethany didn’t sing a song to Jesus, and she didn’t express her feelings in words, I imagine that she would have been able to relate to that expression of praise. While Martha showed her devotion to Jesus by serving him a beautiful meal, and Lazarus expressed his commitment by sitting at the table and listening to Jesus, Mary decided to demonstrate her love with an extravagant act of giving, with the intimate act of anointing. “She took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” I guess I can understand Judas’ objection to what Mary did. Whether or not he had ulterior motives, he had a good point to make – that the perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii and the money given to the poor. A denarius was approximately the daily wage for an average worker in Jesus’ time. So we’re … Read more »
Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest. Through the words of the prophet Isaiah, God says to us, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” These words from the prophet were familiar to me when I read them on Monday and began to think about what I might preach today. This text comes up in the lectionary every three years, and a few years ago, when I learned the song that the choir sang this morning, “Be not afraid”, the words of the prophet became especially meaningful for me. Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest. Perhaps you can think of a time when you were afraid. I am thinking of the day that I discovered a small lump in my breast. I am remembering the time of waiting and worrying before I got the results of the ultrasound. Maybe you are thinking of a similar experience, when your life was in danger or you thought it might be. Maybe you are remembering a time when someone you loved was in trouble, … Read more »