Precious in God's Sight

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

God of the past and present -- we've turned the calendar to a new year. With our whole selves mind, body, and soul -- we thank you for your presence with us and among all peoples. Sprinkle us with your grace; renew again our connections with one another and with your Spirit. Speak clearly through your recorded Word so we hear your call and claim on our lives. We seek your affirmation that we remain your precious children. We pray in the name of your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING–             Luke 3:15-17, 21-22           The Preaching of John the Baptist

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."  Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,  and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING–        Isaiah 43:1-7                                   Israel’s Only Savior

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 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. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, "Give them up," and to the south, "Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth--everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

SERMON                  “Precious in the Lord’s Sight”                     

Because the Prophet Isaiah, served God, He received the Lord’s declaration, “You are precious in my sight. God created Isaiah and formed him into a Man of God. While Isaiah served the Lord, he also displayed human frailty and failures. Although as precious creation in God’s sight, the Lord redeemed him and called him by name and claimed him as a child of God. Isaiah experienced the love, grace and protection of the Lord as he served the difficult task of a prophet to God’s wayfaring people.

800 years later, John the Baptist served as precious prophet to God’s wayfaring people.  Luke gives us a description of John the Baptist’s ministry. While, John looked like Wilderness man, a scratchy camel hair robe and grasshopper hopper diet, people came to hear him preach. The blunt message of repentance convicted the hearer to submit to baptism. The crowds were so enamored with John that many wondered if he were the Messiah. They felt a spiritual tug at their hearts to make changes in their life. They resolved to renew their commitments to Almighty God and strengthen their faith.

In the middle of John’s ministry, Jesus, the Son of God came to be baptized in the Jordan by his cousin John. This may seem a bit odd; for the Messiah to receive an earthly water baptism. Jesus participates in this act of humility to identify with frail humanity. The Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus and declared God’s Messiah, anointed and Beloved. God the Father declares pleasure in Jesus and this beginning to His earthly ministry.

I want you to imagine if Jesus stopped there and did nothing more. What if Jesus went to the synagogue to worship and remained a spectator to God’s activity in the world. What if Jesus watched others, like John, preach and serve the Lord or He refused be a messenger of God’s goodness or if instead of becoming Lord, he avoided any controversy and never challenged false ideas regarding God’s call to us?

I know it’s a ridiculous image because than we would not be formed, redeemed, and claimed in Christ. We would be left to save ourselves. We would not want to become Christian disciples or feel called to serve the Lord. But Jesus did not sit back as a spectator, He became spectacular. He fulfilled his baptismal calling to preach the Good News; He served His neighbors and did not avoid controversy, but accepted the challenge to live as a precious Child of God. Jesus accepted the prophetic mantle. This is why the Father remained well pleased with the Son.

So, as we remember that Jesus received baptism. I remind you of your baptism. That John baptized with water and Jesus came that we may be baptized with the Holy Spirit. After Jesus ascended into heaven the Disciples waited to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. Since, most of us were baptized with water as infants, our parents promised to raise us in the faith until we can confirm those baptismal vows. Christians continue to wait to be baptized by the Holy Spirit. The Christian Church moves forward when believers accept the baptism of the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord, preach Good News, and care for others.

Jesus formed, redeemed, calls you by name, and invites you to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Christian faith is not one where we sit as spectators in worship, but become empowered to serve the Lord. Then, we will truly be precious in the Lord’ sight. TGBTG. Amen.

  January 2018  
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