What does it mean to repent? What does it mean to forgive? In baptism we’re washed clean and today’s Gospel tells the story of when Jesus was baptized.
- Chair with sign that says “DO NOT TOUCH” and a tray of colored chalk powder
- A bucket with warm water and a towel to dry hands
- I’m Pastor Tyler. (keep moving chair closer)
- Just moved here from PA. Do you know where that is?
- Grew up in Iowa. Do you know where that is?
- What’s going on with this chair?
- What does the sign say?
- Why aren’t we supposed to touch it? What’s in the bowl?
- Hmmm … That seems harmless. Does anyone want to touch it?
- Remember what the sign says? You sure you want to do this?
- Look at their hands! What happened!
- Luckily, I have some water with me, otherwise you might make a real mess with those dirty hands!
Retell the story
In the story we heard today, Jesus got baptized. Do you know what baptism is?
- Font, water, get people wet
Jesus was baptized by a guy named John.
- John kept telling people “Repent” which means “stop doing bad things”
- Then he dunked them in water, like they needed a bath
Why do we take baths?
- To get clean!
- Because we’re dirty!
- Gross sweaty, but also the mud from the snow
Why do you think John was giving everyone a bath?
- They must have done something to get dirty!
- Maybe they didn’t listen to all the rules
- And then when they did something wrong it was just like getting dirty
The Good News
- Like John, God asks us not to do bad things.
- But baptism is a promise from God that even when we don’t listen and, for example, get chalk on our hands, God will still love us and take care of us and help us fix any of our problems, washing us clean whenever we’ve made a mess of things.
Thank you, God for washing us clean whenever we make a mess. Clean us again and again and wrap us in your love. Amen.
Hello, It’s very nice to be here. The move to Wisconsin went – well, it was both successful and eventful. It seems like forever since you were voting to receive me as your pastor, and I thank you for this call.
To understand me as a pastor, there are two simple words you need to know. Well, three, but we’ll only cover two today.
- Turn around
- When you realize you’re not supposed to do something and you go the other way
- When you’re driving down a one-way road and suddenly realize you’re going the wrong way – turn around!
- When you get the sudden urge to go over and poor your sister – trust me, I’ve had 35 years of continually fighting that urge – and you choose not to or your sister – that’s REPENT
- Or maybe instead of looking her you just go up and move your at p hands around her – “I’m not touching you” and when she starts getting upset and you realize you need to stop – the moment you stop – that’s repent
- When you’ve had 4 cookies and you realize that having 5 would be a very bad idea – that’s repent.
- And John is crying out REPENT! Repent! The Kingdom of heaven is near
- And no one who’s bad can get into heaven, so stop being bad. Repent! Turn around!
And let me to tell you now, I’m not perfect.
- I’m gonna make mistakes. I’m going to sin against each and every one of you at some point.
- So repent is a very important words to me because it’s something I have to practice myself.
- Because we gotta stop hurting each other in this world, and that’s what repenting is all about. Stopping going the wrong direction and turning around to the right way
The other word is FORGIVE
- Forgive simply means let it go.
- Peter says Jesus is the judge. He’s the one who decides who’s been good and who’s been bad.
- But unlike Santa, Peter says that everyone who trusts Jesus – everyone who believes – is forgiven.
We’re called to trust Jesus and the promises he made.
- One of those promises happened at baptism, where Jesus washed us clean of all our wrongs and said “you are forgiven”
- All those wrongs, Jesus washed them away. Let them go down the drain.
- You heard this promise at the beginning of the service.
- The other promise happened at communion, where Jesus said, “I pour out my life for you to forgive you”
- Again that same word – forgive – this time as payment, paying whatever our mistakes might have cost
- You’ll hear this promise later in the service.
The heart of the Gospel
Those two words – REPENT and FORGIVE – are at the heart of the Gospel for me, and there’s so much more that could be said about them, but today I only want to say this:
- When we mess up – when I sin against you or you sin against me – we are called to repent, turn around, and fix our mistakes as best we can
- And we do this repenting thing because we are joined together in a promise – a promise that God forgive us, that God has washed away our sins, paid their cost, and guaranteed that nothing can come between us and God’s love for us.
- So that when we repent, we face each other as forgiven people and we seek to be Christ to each other, reminding one another that you too are forgiven and can never be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, who lives in you and in me.
Epistle: Acts 10:44-48
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter pondered, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-2,13-17
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Then Jesus came [all the way] from Galilee to John at the Jordan (about an 80 to a 100 mile walk), to be baptized by him.
Now John tried to stop Jesus, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and you’re coming to me?’
But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it go now, for it’s appropriate for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John let it go.
And when Jesus had been baptized, right as he was coming up out of the water, suddenly – look! – the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and resting on him. And a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love dearly. He makes me very happy.’