Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dive In - Luke 3:15-22

Dive In - Luke 3:15-22 El Grito was what we called him. He was also called Giant standing 6’4’ weighing 250 pounds as a 22 year old. It was while we were on retreat at a beach near Acapulco, MX, while we were all hanging out on Saturday afternoon, that Alejandro asked me to baptize him there, in the ocean. Huh, uh, Seria increible, Grito. Incredible to be sure Apart from the size difference, to add to the challenge - we weren’t in a very popular section of the coast, the ocean where where we were is described as Mar Abierto. Strong under-toe. Wicked unpredictable waves. At about 5 pm that evening, Grito and I, in our bathings suits, waded out into the mar abierto. How deep was I to go? Deep enough to not feel so much of his 250 pounds.. but not too deep to get swept away... I thought we were in a good spot....Alejando, En el Nombre del...yikes, we got swept away... We resurfaced and tried to swim a little closer to the shore... En el nombre...a wave crashes over us, booom!! We both go under, and he is lifting me up, practically carrying me, and we call it a done deal! Last year, on Pentecost Sunday, we baptised Emma Russel. Jan Chesnut wrote about the experience: There was much excitement in the sanctuary, a feeling of celebration on this holy day of Pentecost marking the birthday of the Christian Church. The congregation came dressed in red, symbolizing the flames of the Holy Spirit. The first part of the service went seamlessly with Gina, the mother, being received into the church fellowship with Emma, her four year old daughter, arrayed in a festive, white dress, standing quietly by her mother. Now it was Emma’s turn to be baptized by Chester Topple. As Chester turned to Emma she quickly ran down the center aisle crying, “No, no, no.” She was racing about the sanctuary as if swept along by the wind. The congregation was amazed by her reaction while Chester and Gina helplessly looked on, wondering what on earth to do next. Emma continued to circle the sanctuary, even heading up the steps to the chancel. After dashing to the back of the church once more, she paused for a moment and in a loud voice shouted, “I want water! I want water!” Then, suddenly calm, she returned to the front of the sanctuary where Chester and her mother and father were patiently waiting. Gina and Mark proudly affirmed the baptismal vows asked of the parents. The pastor then took Emma by the hand, dipping his other hand into the baptismal font and baptizing her. A smile appeared on the child’s small, impish face and at that moment it seemed clear that the Holy Spirit itself was present in this little child. This was the Spirit that hovers over each of us, reclaiming us in spite of our insistent, “no, no, no,” until we come to our senses and cry “I want water.” A few years ago, many of us travelled out to the Pecos River - to Bob and Kathy Barnes place, there we baptized Rachelle in the Pecos. She had denied opportunities to be baptized as a child. She felt it wasn’t for her - whatever it meant to her.... But, In her mid-twenties, soon to be married to Allan, she wanted to claim her Christian identity; she felt led by the Spirit. She was ready. We were hoping for warm weather; spring in Northern New Mexico...anything was possible. It was a cold...overcast day. After her affirmations of faith After We covenanted with her to journey along with her in her faith. We were already shivering. The short trek to the water seemed long. Bob Barnes and I were on either side of Rachelle, and we cautiously stepped in. Rachelle and I were both jealous of Bobb wearing his rubber over-alls he uses for fishing. The group was gathered above us, standing on the bridge...flashes from cameras went off. WE held her: We baptise you in the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. She went down completely submerged-- Eyes closed, her face was still, and seemed to turn bluish white. her hair flowed upstream like silk-- There was silence-- time seemed to have stopped while the water passed over her. Complete trust. Complete surrender. And in a flash we pulled her up and she gasped for air, and let out a yelp, and we both ran for towels! I’m pretty sure I beat her to the towels. I wrote Rachelle Guzman to tell her I was thinking of her and her baptism. She wrote back: “I think of my baptism a lot. It truly was the most incredible experience....” On that Jordan river years ago, lines were formed of people getting baptized by John. Jesus stood in line waiting his turn. We don’t know why he felt compelled to participate in this an ancient act of repentance. Because everyone else was doing it? To get wet? Cold? Feel the waters pass over? Depends on our orthodoxy, I guess. The gospel writers don’t tell us..and it seems they were confused about why he did it. Matthew and Mark have John in this awkward position of arguing with Jesus about baptising him. Luke has John there baptizing people, but then suddenly, John is arrested by Herod and disappears from the scene, and it seems as if jesus baptizes himself, or some unknown person does it. The evangelist John doesn’t even mention Jesus being baptized... Jesus didn’t need to be cleansed of sin, right?! Among the many things Baptism symbolizes, - cleansing, - Dying and resurrection, - old life becoming new It has powerfully come to mean to me, surrender, surrender of the one baptized, and surrender of all those who witness to event. And Jesus, even as God’s son, models surrender for us. I don’t have to be in control I’m am not seeking power. When we surrender, we engage the process of becoming--not perfect-- but holy, bearing fruits of the Holy Spirit: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Baptism When we surrender we show our intentions - not to be right - but to be righteous, seeking relationships of wholeness, forgiveness, and reconciliation, always. Baptism In surrender, we may live a life - not to be served - but to serve... Baptism WHen we surrender, symbolized so powerfully in baptism--be it the sprinkling of an infant or in raging ocean waters -- we can enter into a deep intimacy with God...because it is then that we may hear God’s voice: You are my beloved Child. I am so pleased with you. You are my beloved Child, I am so pleased with you. Know that in life and in death, nothing can separate us from God’s love. The power of diving into the Promise of Baptism. As a community that seeks to live into it’s baptismal calling of surrender through serving others, we are taking the time to recognize all the many ways people are committing themselves to serve in this community this upcoming year, so long as God calls us to life together. Jobs for Jesus, modeled after monastic community, in which all those who are part of the community take on a responsibility in order to serve the needs of the community. We serve one another not to please the pastor, or anyone else, but to please God. We serve one another because it is what Jesus the master asks of us. Some of these tasks may seem trivial, or a waste of time.... but the spiritual task is to find meaning and joy even in the trivial times we “waste” away... I believe the elders are planning on taking any job that has not been claimed or recruiting people to those jobs, or deciding if it is necessary at this time in the life of the community There are probably some jobs that are being done that aren’t identified. There will probably be some tasks that emerge over the course of the year. There will be people who come who will want to get plugged in. There will be people who go, and their position will need to be filled. We enter into this as a community of faith! Trusting in God. These are the jobs not yet claimed, if you want one, Take it! Even if you’re not sure what it is, I can help sort it out later :) Yet to be claimed/identified: open/close church before/after worship: Cindy Piatt and Dick Fallis; Steve Brugger Deacon: Service Project coordinator: Stage Manager: Okay, now let’s recognize one another and commit to one another. When I call a name, let us acknowledge that person, and if you are here, please come forward as you are able, Dip your hand in the baptismal font, claiming your baptism I will ask you: Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Alabad - Liz and Margaret Communion Prep-table set up, storage: Michael Brinegar Communion Bread Baker: John Burnett Home Communion Coordinator: Jan Chesnut (after April) Ushers/greeters: Micah Frisch, Libby Naranjo Taize coordinators: Keri Brinegar, Jan Gough, Bob Chesnut Prayers Of the People: Consuelo Walker (coordinator), Holly Roach, Isabel Chavez, Maya Chavez, Kevin Hart, Richard Fallis, Richard Avery, Cindy Piatt, Trasie Topple, Paul Fisher, Steve Brugger, Choir Singers: If you plan on singing in the choir this year, please come forward Bell Choir Ringers: Donna Ormerod, Barbara Medina, Micah Frisch Liturgists/Scripture Readers: Brinegars, Richard Fallis, Georgia Ortiz, Patrick Kiptum, Cindy Piatt, Louise Singleton Pulpit Supply: Georgia Ortiz, Jan Gough, Bob Chesnut, Jim Roghair, Richard Avery, Dean Lewis, Gaspar Naranjo Musicians: Brinegars, Grace Nadell, Elizabeth Ethelbah, Bill Taylor, Isabel Chavez, Maya Chavez, Holly Roach, Micah Ortega, Pat Slentz (organ) Musician Coordinators: Grace Nadell, Richard Avery Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Christian Ed - Cindy Nursery Manager: Desiree Burnett Nursery Attendant: Yadira Brugger Youth Coordinator: Holly Roach Children's Sunday school - ages 7-11, Trasie; ages 3-6, Julie Walker, Trasie Topple Librarian: Suzanne Drieth Adult Ed: Christian Education Coordinator: Patrick Kiptum (and if you would like to serve with this care group please stand) Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Mission - Dick Fallis Peacemaking Leader: Phoebe Girard Quilts For Traumatized Children: Donna Ormerod Food Pantry Manager: Grace Nadell Missio Dei: Seamus Malin, David Anderson (and if you would like to serve with this care group please stand) Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Congregational life - Georgia Ortiz Pastoral Care: Bob Chesnut, Georgia Ortiz, Chester Topple Home, Hospital, Nursing Home Visitation: Sherl Rehn, Erik, Mason, Keri Brinegar, Barbara Medina Vecinos Coordinators: Rachel Johnson, Trasie Topple Prayer Chain Organizers: Lois Morton, Libby Naranjo Farolito Editors: Margaret Sandoval, Jennifer Frisch Webmasters: Holly Roach, Cipriana Jurado Facebook Page managers/ promoters: Holly Roach, Cipriana Jurado, Jennifer Frisch, Hospitality Team: Bill Stark (consultant), Bob Chesnut, Lois Morton, Gretchen Bush, Nicole Ortega, Sherl Rehn Special Events: Kevin Hart, Margaret Sandoval Prayer Shawls Coordinator: Lois Morton Technical Guru: Bob Horning Liaison to Scouts: Bob Horning Church Photographer: Jennifer Frisch Give-a-day: Gretchen Bush Office Assistance: Gretchen Bush, Margaret Sandoval, Nicole Ortega Wall of History: Milee G-R, Rachel Johnson Parish Associate: Georgia Ortiz Christmas & Special Event Decorations: Young Lee Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Session/ Administration Elders: Steve Brugger, Terry Garcia (elect), Louise Singleton, Dwight Walker, Cindy Piatt, Richard Fallis, Elizabeth Ethelbah, Margaret Sandoval (Emeritus) Clerk of Session: Milee Griego-Rotuno Moderator: Chester Topple Commissioner to Presbytery: Charles Ortiz? Personnel Contracts - Steve Brugger Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Money and Finances - Louise Treasurer: Keri Brinegar Stewardship: Money Care: Counters Coordinator: Suzanne Drieth Money counters: Suzanne Drieth, Steve Brugger, Lois Morton, Margaret Sandoval, Gerzain Chavez, Carol Lujan, Charles Ortiz, Rachel Johnson, Michael Brinegar, Nicole Ortega, Richard Fallis, Bob Marshall, Mary Graham, Diane Ransom, Consuelo Walker. (if you would like to serve with this care group please stand) Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Building and Grounds: Dwight Walker and Steve Brugger Gardener: John Singleton Project Managers: Steve Brugger, Milee G-R, Charles Ortiz, Assistants: Joe Dudziak Kitchen Manager/organizer: Kevin Hart Kitchen Cleaner: Bob Marshall Leroy and Deanna Vigil, custodians Will you commit to taking on these tasks during 2013, so long as God calls us to life together? And to the congregation: will you lovingly support these servants? Staff Support: Helen Newton, office and administration Chester Topple, pastor Georgia Ortiz Each of us who is gathered here, in a formal role/ Jesus Job, or just being present is seeking live into God’s claim on your life. Are we ready to dive in to a new year together! Let us all stand and share this prayer of St Francis... and as we pray together, you may feel a little water splash on you, reminding you of your baptism...and your life of surrender and service. Sprinkle everyone in the room.... Tracy Chapman...I’m Ready. That image to me, captures the essence of baptism more than any other. Complete trust, Complete Surrender Friday morning, Zia woke us all up a little after 4 am with dry heaving. We tried to lie back down -- she was in bed with us by this point-- hoping that was it; but by 4:45 my face was wet with what had once been in her stomach causing her trouble. She was not well. At no point did I resent her, question my love for her, wish she would just go away and stop bothering me. The baptismal calling to community is like that in some ways. We all struggle with varying degrees of health issues - physical, emotional, psychological-- and sometimes these varying conditions of not-well-ness, may result in someone tossing their cookies on you or me - maybe that was it, had we fed Zia any cookies earlier that day? When we take our baptismal convenant with one another, we recongnize many truths about our common life. That we are not perfect, and that no one here is perfect, and taht perfection is really not the goal. Holiness is more the mark, be Holy as your heavenly Father is Holy, is how Jesus put it: Being seems to be a willingness or even beyond that an ability to love unconditionally. In striving to be perfect or always right, we miss the whole point of baptism, which is that God loves us in our imperfection, drawing ever near. If we strive to be perfect and always right, what need then have we for God, except, we of course, can never obtain that goal, and it only takes falling on our faces time and again to realize that something is fundamentally wrong with that objective. Three years ago, many of us travelled out to the Pecos River - where Bob and Kathy Barnes live--and there we baptized Rachelle Guzman. In her mid-twenties, this was a decision she had made...she wanted to claim her Christian identity; she wanted to allow her life to be filled with the Spirit, led by the spirit. She had had an opportunity to be baptised as a child, but didn’t think it was right for her. It was a cold spring day. Overcast, as I recall, most unlucky in New Mexico when you get an overcast day when you plan an outdoor activity. She made her affirmations of faith, putting her trust in God; We covenanted with her - promising to journey along with her in her faith. THen we made the short trek to the water. Bob Barnes on One side, I on the other. WE held her, In the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. She went under, water rushing over her face, eyes closed, Complete trust. Complete surrender. That image to me, captures the essence of baptism more than any other. Complete trust, Complete Surrender A subtle component to the version of the story Luke tells is the little detail about who baptized Jesus. In Matthew and Mark, it is John, clearly. Even though John puts up a bit of a fuss about it in both of them. In Luke, John is there one moment, then there is the brief interlude of John’s confrontation with Herod and Luke reports John’s in prison. Then back on the baptism scene, “when all the people had been baptized and when Jesus had also been baptized.” We can safely assume it’s John that did it, but there is a bit of awkwardness in the way Luke tells the story. This may not seem like a big deal, but really it is. We bible geeks will sometimes talk about Christology. Thoughts, teachings, study about Christ. We describe the varying levels of how people view Jesus in terms of high Christology or low Christology. Like how highly esteem we see jesus, which would lead to a high christology, or how not so high we esteem Jesus, low christology. So, for example, for mark and Matthew who have John baptize Jesus, but make a fuss about John doing it, they have, in this instance, a lower christology. If Jesus is baptised by John, does that make him lower than John? If Jesus is baptized, by the John’s baptism, which was the baptism of repentence, what does that say about jesus, he had no need to repent...right? Some have asked, many may wonder when we are going to baptize our girls. It is customary to baptize infants in most Presbyterian Churches. I have witnessed and performed many infant baptisms in my 37 year affiliation with the Presbyterian Church. Why do we baptize infants? We don’t believe that it is an issue of eternity in the Presbyterian Church. That if you are not baptized that means you do not get into has been taught in some Christian churches over the centuries. So if you don’t need baptism to be fireproof why baptise at all? When we baptise infants - we affirm the prevenient gift of God’s grace - that is, that before we can utter more than a goo-goo ga ga about God, God loves us; and claims us. And that is what baptism of infants is about. It’s also an opportunity for parents to think about what it means to raise their children in a Christian environment, and an opportunity for a community of faith to commit itself to helping raise children in the faith. This community has made a covenant to love and help raise in the faith every child who has been baptised into the community. And it is a commitment that transends every time and place. Tammy Lopez, whose funeral is coming up on January 19, was baptised in this community some fifty six years ago. Maybe one or two people who are presently here recollect the possibility of being here. yet, our commitment to her and her family was sealed in those baptismal waters. That is what we are called to do, and we claim that calling, by celebrating baptism. Those unforgetable moments...leading us into day by day living with God. I can’t figure out why some days, the keyless key button works, and other other days it doesn’t Why are we more healthy some days and less healthy other days. Why? Why are there so many senseless acts of violence? Why are there so many random acts of kindness? Apart from the raucous John was making out there baptizing...: The heavens opened! The voice boomed: You are my beloved Child. An affirmation that would lead him to become who God had called him to become! Jesus baptism didn’t mean that his life would go back to the way it had been before... It meant that from that moment on, he was going to live a life of loving service. It wasn’t an end - a ticket to heaven - it was a beginning, which would lead him to the cross. Some of us may not have been baptized, but are familiar with the practice... Some of us may remember our baptisms. Some of us may not, which means you were baptized as a baby, like I was, and let me tell you, from experience baptising babies, that is about as unpredictable as it gets: Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry...water on the head, WHAAAH. I bet most I you who were baptized as babies cried like babies! In either of the scenarios - we are all living in a world unpredictable, a life in which there are few garauntees...the baptism may help us get through it, but more so, its the life that is lived when we claim our baptism...when we claim that we are beloved children of God that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God. And then we live into that reality each and every day: through service. Some may wonder why By

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