Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sunday's Sermon

By Water and Spirit

Scripture: Mark 1:4–11

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,"

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Gospel of Mark is believed to be the earliest of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) written around 70 years after the common era. From the language and tone of Mark’s gospel it appears to be written for a community comprised of both Jewish and Gentile Christians, many of whom are not familiar with Jewish practices.

These persons are not highly educated or wealthy and have been suffering from religious persecution. To this early Christian community Mark writes his fast-paced account of the good news of God’s saving action found in the message of Jesus. But this salvation was obviously meant for their lifetimes. Jesus proclaimed God’s Imperial Rule as near or already present but unrecognized. It would be marked by a different attitude toward all in the culture. In a place where differences in class were clearly delineated, Jesus would break all the rules of class and embrace all who would follow and participate in his mission to change his society.

Although this gospel begins with the proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God, this designation was a later development. At his request, this designation of his identity was withheld from the people Jesus himself encountered. Many times he disclaimed the title. Instead Mark’s emphasis focuses on the suffering servant nature of Jesus and the cost of discipleship.

In the tradition of the times, Mark began by introducing both Jesus and his predecessor John the Baptist. Mark then offered the reader a brief summary of what would take place as Jesus journeyed from Nazareth to Jerusalem.

People from the city and surrounding rural areas came to the wilderness outside Jerusalem to be baptized by John. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sin. This was different than the ritual purity washings to which people were accustomed. John preached repentance and baptism as a response to the urgency of the coming Messiah. The similarity of John’s clothing and behavior to the prophet Elijah serves to underscore the prophetic nature of John’s message.

Jesus came from Nazareth to be baptized by John. Many scholars believe Jesus was initially a disciple of John. While many wonder why Jesus would need to be baptized for repentance it is widely understood as an expression of solidarity with, and empathy for, humankind. His baptism also served as the commissioning of Jesus as the agent of God to change the nature of his world.

The appearance of the dove in our story tells us what a different type of leader Jesus will be from the Roman emperor, whose symbol was the eagle.

Christians today also recognize baptism as an entrance or introduction into the Christian community. This community is defined by the continuing presence of God’s Spirit. It is through the leadings of this Holy Spirit that disciples are empowered to serve as emissaries and instruments of God’s restoring purposes in OUR world. We are challenged to seek mission in our world. In other words we are challenged to action! True disciples will not be simply pew sitters.

But baptism is not the end all to our journey. It is simply a symbol of our willingness to engage in the journey of a change of emphasis for our lives and a commitment to listen for God’s guiding voice. Then as we take the sacrament each month, we have an opportunity to reflect on our progress and in our minds renew the covenant we made in the waters of our baptism.

As those who claim to be Jesus’ disciples, we must understand the divine affirmation of our “being loved”. It is God’s gift to all people. Recognition that each human being is a beloved child of God is the means whereby we come to know ourselves as persons of infinite worth. This is affirmed in our church’s enduring principle of “Worth of All Persons”. When we live out of this gift, we are motivated and empowered to help others realize their own worth and belovedness. We become the bearers of God’s image to those we meet; more truthfully, we help others discover that image already resident within them. This is at the core of the church’s mission initiative to “Invite People to Christ”.

The assurance of God’s love gave Jesus his identity. As we assume this same identity, we can give up selfish pursuits and fear based actions. We allow the Spirit to ground us in selfless giving and generous offering of ourselves for others. The Spirit at His baptism told Jesus who he was so that he could do what God required. Likewise, the Spirit tells us who we are so we can faithfully pursue the mission of Jesus in our world.

Through repentance and the acknowledgment of having received forgiveness, disciples prepare for the fullness of God’s activity in their lives and in their world. To continually engage in this process is central to Christian discipleship.

Jesus modeled for us the importance of our commitment to obedience to God’s direction and to engage in our own personal mission. Our response to God’s Spirit witnesses of our willingness to try to follow this commitment and recognize and encourage the recognition of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of others.

We are challenged to bear faithful witness of God’s redemptive activity in our present day and encourage hope for the future. Let us reflect then on our own baptism. Did we understand it more as an act of repentance and forgiveness or did we see it as an entrance into Christian community and discipleship? To be commissioned as a disciple is to take our part in God’s mission. Let us ask ourselves, “How have we felt the Holy Spirit present with us as we have engaged in active discipleship?”

Were we baptized by water and also by the Spirit? Do we acknowledge God’s action in our own lives? Do we look for opportunities to be God’s agent in our world? As we take the communion each month, let us ask ourselves these important questions.

A Good Night's Sleep

I left Slinky outside last night. It was only 39 degrees.

I let him in at 11:30 when he began barking but in ten minutes he wanted back outside and I could not convince him to go to bed. So I put him out. He barked for about ten or fifteen minutes and then finally decided that was not going to work and went to sleep on the chaise lounge.

He slept all night there and I got a good night's sleep. I went to bed at 8:00. I was terribly tired. Then I got up at 4:30 when Missy woke me to go out. Animals! I had had plenty of sleep by then.

This morning I will meet my brother-in-law for breakfast and then later, at 9:30, go see my sister. I'm not sure what I will do with the rest of the day. I could do some cleaning on the house.

More later....

We had lunch then we both went to our homes to do some housework. I scrubed my kitchen floor and then went to see my sister and Gerry. Later he called and suggested we go to Bartlesville it was such a nice day. We had a good time just walking the mall and then went to Hobby Lobby to look for a photo magnet. They did not have the size I wanted.

Then we went to Dink's Bar B Q and had a wonderful sandwich. Then we came on back home. I worked a little longer on the newsletters that had come back in the mail. I also worked on tomorrow's sermon.

Then I came in to watch some TV.

Big Day!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Ongoing Saga With Slinky

I had this post all finished but for some reason, it did not save. How disgusting!

I had Slinky in the house for awhile last night but he kept barking to go out so I just let him out on the patio to sleep on the chaise lounge for the night. He barked for awhile and finally decided he wasn't going to get back in so he went to sleep. I'll bet the neighbors hate me.

He woke up at 4:00 AM this morning...hungry....and started barking. I ignored him. Then I got up at my regular time at 5:00, made my bed, made up my face, brushed my teeth and dressed before I came into the kitchen to let him in to feed him. He is perfectly happy right now with a full stomach. He had his cup of dog food and most of my oatmeal.

I don't know what I will do with him this winter when it gets cold. We've had a mild winter so far. It was 39 degrees out on the patio last night and is supposed to get up to the high 60's today. Weird weather.

He is 14 this year and has a hard time lying down and getting up. I imagine he has a lot or arthritis and pain. I love the old dog but now that I am working three mornings a week, I don't know what I will do with him except put him in the garage for the morning. But then he would have to go back in the garage if I wanted to go somewhere. I have meetings a few times a month besides my work three mornings a week. It's a quandry. I don't know how long I can continue to lose sleep when he barks off and on all night.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Better Night!

Last night was a little better. Slinky woke up at midnight needing to go out so I let him out and back in. Then thirty minutes later he started barking again. I came in and feigned terrible anger, tried to get him into the garage (which he hates) and finally told him "No!" about going out again. I knew he just wanted to go dig in the flowerbed and eat dirt. Then I told him "You get back to bed!!!" in no uncertain terms. This time he was quiet. Unfortunately by this time I was upset and could not go back to sleep. All I could think about was this hassle all winter long. If I could just train him to stop that barking to get out every thirty minutes! Otherwise, much against my wishes, I am going to have to have him put down. I really don't want to do that. Finally an hour later I got up and took a sleeping pill and we both slept the rest of the night. We'll see how that goes from now on. As you can see in the above photos, Slinky is sharing his bed again with Missy. He is very tolerant of her.

I attended the PINCH meeting last evening and enjoyed it. They had a real good attendance. We are planning for the 14th and our Martin Luther King Day celebration. I will make a big pot of chili and some cookies. The committee has it all planned.
They have asked me to offer the invocation and do the prayer for the offeratory. I can do that. I will dress up for this occasion. Usually I just wear slacks. They are warmer. But I will weat a suit for this since I will be on the program.

Today is the Ministerial Alliance meeting at noon so I will have to take off a little early to be there to distribute the minutes and the agendas. There is going to be a mess, I fear. One of the pastors wants to bring up the fact that the college drama coach intends to introduce a play that discusses abortion. It just discusses the issues involved and does not take my understanding. I see nothing wrong with discussing the issue. In fact, that's the only way both sides can be heard. But many of the ministers will not even want the issue introduced at all.

Personally, I could not have an abortion (even if I were young enough to get pregnant)but as long as it is the law of the land, I respect a woman's right to choose what happens in her own body as long as she doesn't use it as a way for birth control. There are extenuating circumstances where abortion might be the best answer. If the life of the mother is in danger, for example...or if the fetus is so badly malformed or it's brain is on the outside of it's body...something like that...abortion might be the best answer for all involved...especially the fetus. But that is just my opinion....for whatever it's worth.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What a Night!

Last night Slinky woke me up at 9:30 to go out. That was fine. Then he woke me at 2:00, 2:30, 3:00 and 3:30. At 3:30, I put him out for good. He barked awhile (and probably woke up the neighbors) but I finally decided I wasn't going to let him back in and climbed up on the chaise lounge and went to sleep. At 5:00, just as I had got back to sleep, some man called. It was a wrong number. Slinky is somewhat subdued this morning, although he has been in and out a couple of times. We have had a fight over the flowerbeds. He insists on digging in them and I insist he doesn't. But he's sneaky. Scott always told me he was sneaky and I see that trait every once in awhile.

Today I will work..even though I feel wrung out from loss of sleep. Afterward I will go back to Independence to have lunch with Juanita and then get my hair done.

Tonight, I hope "Harry's Law" is on TV. Last week they ran a re-run. It's my favorite TV program outside of PBS. I will attend the PINCH meeting. I really don't want to but feel obligated because of Marilyn and Bredesen's. The organization is planning the Martin Luther King Day celebration for Saturday, January 14th and I should attend and take my chili. It starts at 5;30 so I should get home in time for my program....if they show it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good Old Slinky?

Maybe not. He woke me up at 12:30 to go out and then went right back to sleep when I let him back in. Then at 4:00 he wanted out again. This time he discovered the newly cleaned and mulched flowerbeds and decided to dig a hole in the one next to the patio. I went out with the broom to nudge him away from it and he growled at me. I bawled him out good and let him back into the kitchen. In a minute or two he wanted back out so I let him back out (in 19 degree weather). In a short time, he wanted back in (naturally) so I let him back in and told him sternly to go back to bed. He did. He barked a few times after that but I ignored him and he went back to bed. Wow! What a mess. I got up at 5:15 and dressed and made up my face before coming back to the kitchen to feed him. By then he had settled down and was behaving himself. I fed him and then fixed his oatmeal. After eating that, he needed to get back out so I let him out but after he finished his business, he wanted right back in (naturally).

I hope it warms up this morning when I go to Independence to my MC3 meeting at 11:20, or he will have to stay in the garage. He'll hate that but it will beat the outside. The hot water tank manages to keep it fairly warm.

I slept well last night after all that raking and bagging yesterday. I probably won't get anything else done on the yard today. It's pretty cold.

More later....

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Old Slinky

Slinky spent the cold night in the house and only woke me once to go out. So, I got another good night's sleep, for which I am grateful.

I don't have a plan for today. The house is clean, the laundry is done and if it warms up enough, and there is no wind, I will rake and bag leaves today. I really need to get the yard cleaned up. Those leaves blow up on the patio and make a real mess. I will do the back yard first. If I can get those raked and bagged, I will put out three bags at a time for the trash haulers. That's all they will take at one time.

I haven't heard anything out of my boys lately. I hope all is well with them. Bob A. and I ate lunch with Leslie and John and Phyllis F. at the new Mexican restaurant yesterday.

More later...

I started my raking mid morning just as soon as it warmed up a bit. I got 16 bags of leaves and still have the entire back at my fence line yet to do. I stopped at 3:00 because I was really tired. I also mulched two flowerbeds and still have two more in the back to do and also the entire front flowerbed. If we get another warm day tomorrow while I am not working maybe I can finish the back anyhow. I haven't touched the front yet.

After I mentioned here that I hadn't heard from my boys, the oldest one called to chat a bit. He's a sweetheart.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Morning

Marilyn called last night to tell me she and Jack are having beans and cornbread tonight and they decided to ask the group over to share it. So I am invited. Isn't that nice? I volunteered to bring an apple crisp for dessert. Bob A. and I saw them down at Owasso yesterday afternoon. Go figure! An hour from home and we run into Marilyn from Coffeyville. She was coming out of Penney's and didn't see us at first even though we were practically right on top of her. I guess when you don't expect to see someone, at first you just don't. When she did see us, she grabbed me and hugged me. Jack was in the car but he saw us and waved anyhow. They are great people. They have been especially supportive of me since Bob died.

So after church I will need to go get some more apples for my apple crisp. I have two but two won't begin to do it.

Slinky spent the night outside on the patio sleeping on the chaise lounge. It was brisk but far from cold and I got a great night's sleep with no interruptions. He is lying here on the floor on his soft pad now. I just finished doctoring his ears with olive oil. He still scratches them. And in cold weather hhis skin dries out and itches too.

It will be interesting to see how many of our folks will be at church this morning. We dismissed services for Christmas. Leslie was on call last night so she may not be there. After all if people are going to fall off the wagon, it will certainly be on New Years Eve.

More later...

We had a pretty good attendence this morning. Even though my daughter was on call and had to go out for several hours last night, she showed up for church. The services were very good and afterward we five went to eat at the new Mexican restaurant. I did my letters in the afternoon and made my apple brown betty for dessert over at Marilyn and Jack's house this evening. I made too much and had quite a bit left over. I left it with Marilyn and Jack. They can divide it up among the other guests.

We played Pictionary for a couple of hours but I was first to leave. I was worried about Slinky and the cold. It is still around 39 degrees but it's supposed to get down to 21 later tonight. I will need to put him in the kitchen later this evening.