Sermons 2009
In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany 1B 2009                     Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11

 “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the deep.”

In the beginning there was water and in the beginning there was the Holy Spirit of God, the Ruach Yahweh, the wind of God, sweeping over the face of the waters.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  So  begins the great opening hymn of the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel according to Saint John.

The beginning of the good news, the gospel, of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  So begins the gospel according to Saint Mark, likely the oldest gospel and the closest to the time of Jesus.

The beginning of the Church:  Jesus’ Baptism.

Like Genesis and the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Saint Mark gets right to it.  There are no manger scenes, no heavenly chorus of angels singing to shepherds on the hillside, not shepherds at all, and no three wise men.  For Saint Mark, the beginning is the announcement that Jesus is the Messiah, the baptism of Jesus, the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit into the world by descending on Jesus, and the pronouncement that Jesus is the beloved Son of God in whom God is well pleased.

It was one of those most holy and sacred moments when the earth stood still, silent to see.  It ranks with those previous holy moments in salvation history:  the creation, God’s speaking his name in the Tetragrammaton, and the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai.  Baptism by water and the Holy Spirit.   

Now, ritual washing has been around a long time--Jews baptized pagan Gentiles who wanted to become Jews.  As a rite of purification it symbolically washed away the pollution of the Gentile world, its idol worship or even godless culture.  

Baptisms of repentance, like those by John the Baptist, were known to the Jews of Jesus' day. There were baptisms (washings) at the pool of Siloam, where an angel stirred the waters, and ritual washing played a significant role in the Qumran community.  Ritual washing was not new for John the Baptist or for Jesus. 

Baptism also certainly has the authentic component in it of cleansing--obviously, water is used and you wash up or bathe because you're not clean to begin with.  Consider the primary purpose of a bath, which is a preparation.  We bathe because of what we've got planned for after the bath--we're going to put on clean clothes and go to a party or to church or even to bed to go to sleep.

The rite of Baptism, both as John and his disciples practiced it and the Sacrament as the Church has taught and practiced it, has a powerful aspect of being reborn, of washing away sin, both original and otherwise.  For both John and Jesus baptism meant also new behavior: a new way of living.  (1)

A 10 year-old boy named Cameron, walked into his pastor’s office and said he needed to talk to her. "I'd like to be baptized," he said. "We were learning about Jesus' baptism in Sunday School. The teacher asked the class who was baptized, and all the other kids raised their hands.  And I want to be baptized too."

            She asked him, "Cameron, do you really want to be baptized just because everyone else is?"  He replied, "No. I want to be baptized because it means I belong to God."


            When she said, "How about this Sunday?"  he asked, "Do I have to be baptized in front of all those people in the church?  Can't I just have a friend baptize me in the river?  Jesus was baptized by his cousin John in a river, wasn't he?"


            “Well, yes, she answered. But, if a friend baptized you in the river, how would the church recognize it?"  Then she reached for her copy of constitution and canons.  But before she found it, he responded.   "I guess by my new way of living" he said. (2)


            Please turn to page 858 in the Prayer Book.


Holy Baptism


Q.    What is Holy Baptism?

A.     Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.


Q.    What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?

A.     The outward and visible sign in Baptism is water, in

         which the person is baptized in the Name of the Father,  and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Q.    What is the inward and spiritual grace in Baptism?

A.     The inward and spiritual grace in Baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God’s family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.


Q.    What is required of us at Baptism?

A.     It is required that we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.


Q.    Why then are infants baptized?

A.     Infants are baptized so that they can share citizenship in the Covenant, membership in Christ, and redemption by God.


Q.    How are the promises for infants made and carried out?        

A.    Promises are made for them by their parents and

         sponsors, who guarantee that the infants will be

         brought up within the Church, to know Christ and be able to follow him.




1.      Grant Gallup, Homily Grits, in eSermons Illustrations for January 11, 2009 (BBL) Mark 1:4-11, modified

2.     From a sermon by Sarah Jo Sarchet preached at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, in eSermons Illustrations for January 11, 2009 (BBL) Mark 1:4-11, modified