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sermon for today, Baptism of our Lord Isaiah 43:1-7 Psalm 29 Acts 8:14-17 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 As we just came through the Christmas season, I’m sure most of us are familiar with the eager expectation and anticipation that we go through during this season. Perhaps we eagerly awaited the moment when we were able to unwrap those presents that sat under the tree for what seemed like ages. Perhaps we eagerly awaited that moment when grandparents or children walked through the doors as we expected their arrival for some time. Perhaps we eagerly awaited as a young infant joined us for their first Christmas and though the excitement was a bit tame, we anticipate what the next few years may bring. There is so much about the Christmas and New Year’s season that begs us to hurry up and wait that we are perhaps worn out, ready for it to be over and ready to move on as soon as everything is over…we hurriedly clean up and move on. The eager expectation is highlighted in our text this morning. As John the Baptist was preaching, teaching, and baptizing people at the river Jordan, people began to expect something. Some even thought that this crazily dressed, acting, eating and speaking man was the real deal. John quickly set them straight but as he did this, he continued to stoke the fires of expectation. I can’t help but wonder, do we truly feel and comprehend this type of expectation? Perhaps we think about a political candidate who we think can “save” this nation. Perhaps we think of a magical food, job or some other item that could rescue us? Perhaps we think about a record Powerball drawing and what we could do with all of that money - which by the way, no one won...over a billion dollar jackpot next time? Perhaps if our favorite sports teams win their games then all will be right with the world. But, what about the expectation regarding Jesus? Is there something to this - do we expect Jesus? Perhaps if we were to truly see a savior, we would want them to come to us and wave a sign in front of our faces with flashing neon lights to grab our attention – perhaps all of this would be enough to boldly declare to us…hey this is me, this is the real deal! However, all of those things take away from the expectation…the hope, and faith that comes from never being quite certain about our Savior and how he may come or where Jesus may meet us again. So we are left with hopeful expectation that Christ will come to us and meet us where we are…and that is perhaps the problem. In our world, we are so used to being disappointed by people, by political candidates and sports teams, by family, friends and loved ones, by any host of things, that we hesitate to raise our expectations too high. When and if we do, it always feels like they are broken again, defeated in some way or we are left hanging or let down by those whom we trusted. This is the reality of the world we live in. People, relationships, and many others things will disappoint us. The reality is we will do the very same thing to others as well. We will disappoint them, we will fail to be there for them and we will have a really hard time forgiving them when we feel they have wronged us…often only to find out that they felt wronged by us all along. Being in relationship with one another means we will disappoint one another. It also means, in the midst of our vulnerability and openness to a relationship that we value each other and perhaps, because of this, we should be willing to forgive and move forward together, not in brokenness, but in wholeness and peace. This is of course easier said than done! For many in this day and age, it is easier to disengage, to remove and separate ourselves from a group rather than trying to repair brokenness. And sometimes separation is healthier than being together. In this midst of brokenness, in the midst of despair, in the midst of long-hoped for and disappointed people, John came to raise their expectations, raise their hope to a new and fevered level, to bring about a change in heart, soul and action by those who still looked for the coming and promised savior. These very same people began to wonder if John was the one they were looking for, yet he quickly set aside these thoughts and began to point to the one who must come after him – the one whose sandal he was not unworthy to untie. When Jesus arrives, it is an interesting scene. Much remains unclear about what happened, about how much John and Jesus knew about each other and countless other details. In fact, if they are related, Luke’s gospel is the only one that makes this point. Yet all we hear is: “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.’” After being baptized by John, Jesus prays. In the midst of this prayer and heavens open, the Holy Spirit descends and the voice of God declares that Jesus is God’s Son. It is proud daddy moment, yet with very different connotations! This is God speaking and the voice declares that Jesus is the Son of God. Things just got very real. Now all that talk from John the Baptist means something. Now all those words in the scripture that promised another was coming...now they are true. The prophet’s words are fulfilled, the expectations are over, and yet, not much changed…so what happened? Perhaps Jesus did not meet enough of their expectations to be taken seriously enough. Perhaps Jesus did not meet enough of their expectations about a warrior who would lead their armies against the Roman Empire. Perhaps Jesus did not meet enough of their expectations when they considered a wrathful and vengeful God and instead saw one who talked of love, turning the other cheek and seeking peace beyond our human understanding. This Jesus was not the one they expected, therefore, they kept looking for another who would conform to their expectations and seek a different way. In baptism, our expectations, whatever they are, are meet by the reality of God’s word, love and promises to mark and claim us as God’s own children. On Christmas Eve, as I was preparing to baptismal font for the baptism of Adeline, Bill began to kid me about the water I was pouring into the bowl They jokingly asked: “Is that holy water?” To which I responded, “not yet, but give me a few minutes and it will be.” The water and the Word of God, an earthly element and a word of promise spoken by God to God's people combine in the waters of baptism to not only make holy water, but to make us children of God. This is the power of baptism: we are washed, claimed, marked and sealed in the promises of God’s love, grace and forgiveness. Christ grants these promises through the cross which is marked upon our foreheads forever. Martin Luther explains this mystery in the Small Catechism: How can water do such great things? Answer: Clearly the water does not do it, but the Word of God, which is with, in, and among the water, and faith, which trusts this Word of God in the water. For without the Word of God the water is plain water and not a baptism, but with the Word of God, it is a baptism, that is, a grace-filled water of life and a “bath of new birth in the Holy Spirit.” Through the promises of baptism, God in Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit opens up the heavens, descends up us, meets us where we are, makes us children as we are, and says to each one of us with expectation for a future together: “You are my child, my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”

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1 Sara Di Diego = "But now, this is what the Lord says—    he who created you, Jacob,    he who formed you, Israel:“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.2 When you pass through the waters,    I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers,    they will not sweep over you.When you walk through the fire,    you will not be burned;    the flames will not set you ablaze.3 For I am the Lord your God,    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;I give Egypt for your ransom,    Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,    and because I love you,I will give people in exchange for you,    nations in exchange for your life.5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;    I will bring your children from the east    and gather you from the west.6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’Bring my sons from afar    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—7 everyone who is called by my name,    whom I created for my glory,    whom I formed and made.”"
2 Sara Di Diego = "A psalm of David.1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;    worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;    the God of glory thunders,    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;    the voice of the Lord is majestic.5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,    Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.7 The voice of the Lord strikes    with flashes of lightning.8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c]    and strips the forests bare.And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.11 The Lord gives strength to his people;    the Lord blesses his people with peace."
3 Sara Di Diego = "14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."