January 11, 2009

Whose Baptism?

For a few weeks, I have felt a bit off in my sermon prep. The pieces I wanted to come together hadn't, and it just seemed like the message wasn't connecting with people where they were.

This week, I surely had a much different focus going into the sermon than what was produced, but I for some reason got into a roll on a modern interpretation of the passage from Acts this morning. I talked about a group of guys heading to the big city to see this crazy preacher lady. They just wanted to see the spectacle, but they were moved and were baptised by Jane B. in the river. And they headed home and while they wanted things to be different, nothing really was.

A few years went by and suddenly this traveling preacher came to town named Paul and he told them about what they had been missing out on - that they only had half the story - and immediately those believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.

I hope to post on this in a few days, but I read the book "The Shack" last week. It absolutely amazed me. Yeah, there are some theological points that I don't agree with, but if I'm honest with myself, there are far more that resonate with my own theology than don't. Especially when it comes to really being open and trusting that God can dwell within you. That your life can be different because God lives within you.

In my sermon this morning, I tried to move from that story of missing pieces to talk about how we don't fully understand the power of the Holy Spirit that is given to us in baptism. We underestimate its power. We don't trust it. And so we are not able to do the things we know we are called to. We get caught up in fear and hesitation instead of resting in the knowledge that God is within us, God has filled us, God loves us and God is for us.

In the service we also had a time to remember our baptisms and I think the morning went very well. I had a number of people come up to me after the service and talk about how meaningful it was for them. And what was even more amazing about the service is that I felt like I really worshipped this morning too.

Afterwards we had our first ever worship committee meeting to talk about plans for Lent and Easter. Getting answers and ideas out of them was like pulling teeth, and I'm not sure if that's because I'm asking the wrong questions or if they just aren't used to being asked these kinds of questions. I think we did come up with a general theme for the lenten season: Simplicity and Spiritual Disciplines... about what we need to let go of in order to really enjoy our relationship with God... as well as some songs to guide us through the season. We talked about plans for Holy Week, Ash Wednesday, and then Easter Sunday.

To my amazement, someone suggested that we scrap the Sunrise Service - because it doesn't have a large attendance, and the youth aren't really involved in it anyways. And then someone agreed. And someone actually said: just because we've always done it that way doesn't mean that it's worth doing. WOO HOO!!! Last year's Easter Sunrise service was something the youth group helped me put together - complete with hard rock songs instead of hymns... and then none of them showed up. So this gives me permission to not do it... yay!

The rest of the day was spent on the couch watching moves. Lots of movies. "I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry" "Music and Lyrics" "Burn After REading" "Hancock" "Ratatouille"... it was just one of those kinds of days.

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