Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Matthew 3:1-12 | Bear Fruit in Keeping with Repentance ... and Revolution + January 6, 2018

"Baptized When the Levees Broke" by Brandan "Bmike" Odums

Baptism and Repentance Prepares Us for Life, Death, and New Life Ahead

At the close of Exhibit BE at Degaulle Manor, a 360 unit apartment complex abandoned since Hurricane Katrina, yet transformed by 35 street artists into a powerful display of beauty, justice, and transformation, 10,000+ people filled the parking lot. Erykah Badu addressed the growing crowd on a platform stage in front of a 5-story painting of murdered teen George Carter: I got love for my folks, baptized when the levees broke. "That moment, something unreal happened," said Brandan "Bmike" Odums, artist of "Baptized When the Levees Broke" (see above). The place that should had evoked so many emotions of pain and frustration had been transformed into a story of resilience and power. The water did not destroy us, it only made us stronger."

Similar to how these artists stepped into the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, John the Baptizer stepped into Israel's tragic history to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness, the Messiah Jesus who would baptize people into His story and His death so that they might be resurrected in Him to new life.

John plunging people in the water of the river Jordan wasn't just a symbolic cleansing for individuals; it was a sign of the new thing that God was doing in history, for Israel and the world. Over a thousand years before, the children of Israel had crossed the Jordan when they first entered and conquered the promised land. Now they had to go through the river again, as a sign that they were getting ready for a greater conquest, God's defeat of all evil and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth as in heaven. 
John was revealing, 'A change is coming, a revolution is on the way, a disaster (the destruction of the old) is about to happen. Prepare the way of the Lord.' And what is the manner of preparation? It is a baptism of repentance. Baptism reminded them and reminds us of the exodus, passing through the Red Sea, leaving the ways of slavery behind. It's time, John is saying, for a new mind, a new set of eyes, a new kind of expectation. The God who came to His people in Jesus will one day unveil His Kingdom in all its glory, bringing justice and joy to the whole world. 
How can we get ready for that day? Where do the roads need straightening out? What fires need to be lit to burn away the rubbish in His path? Which dead trees will need to be cut down? And, equally important, who should be summoned, right now, to repent?  + Bishop N.T. Wright and Bishop Robert Barron

Gospel Reading for Homily | Matthew 3:1-12

Rejoicing in Baptism and Repentance that Points to Jesus

John's baptism is the first baptism we meet in Scripture. It is a baptism of repentance. No pedigree, no good deeds could render it unnecessary; it was indispensable if you were to get into the coming Kingdom. Nobody was too bad to be included in God's Kingdom. Nobody was too good to need baptism. 

Baptism demanded repentance and led to a change of life. It was public and unashamed. It was a pointer to the last judgment: you either underwent God's judgment in symbol in the Jordan, or you would have to face it for real later on.

And above all it was a preparatory rite. It pointed forward to Jesus. He would bring in the Kingdom which the voice proclaimed. He would cleanse the conscience and bring the forgiveness of sins which John's baptism pointed to but could not offer. And He would fulfill the hopes of prophets long ago and put the Spirit of the Lord Himself into the hearts of those who came in penitence to ask.

Lord's Prayer | Praying for Jesus' Kingdom Impact in Us and in Worcester

Eucharist | Thanking God for Communion with Christ and His Church

Corporate Prayer of Confession and Assurance
Isaiah 6:5-8; Daniel 9:4-19; Nehemiah 1:5-10; Luke 23:34

One: God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Righteous Judge,
You resist the proud and give grace to the humble.
Turn us to You, Father, wash us by Your Spirit and fire,
and clothe us in Jesus' righteousness.

All: Humble us today, Jesus. Show us Your Way.
We confess that we have made Your straight ways crooked.
May we die to our pride so we can live in Your hope.
Forgive us by the riches of Your grace.

Silent Personal Reflection and Confession

One: Jesus, our Rescuer and our Champion,
You are faithful. You draw near to us.
Help us to remember our baptisms
and our identity in You.
And may we share in more baptisms
because of how You are bringing
new life to individuals and families.
Jesus, You are the Good News:

All: In You, we are forgiven!

Old Testament Scripture Reading

“‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave your fathers; you will be My people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness." + Ezekiel 36:24-29a

By Sojourn Worship
2015 A.D.

Forgive us Lord, for passing by 
When children cry for bread.
Forbid it Lord, that justice lies
In tatters, cold and dead.
Outside these walls run desperate streets 
Where greed is law and life is cheap.
We bar the doors, refuse to see, 
Or hear the words You said:

Let justice roll like a river, 
Like a river, let it roll!
Let justice roll like a river,
Like a river, let it roll!

Convict us Lord, we dance and laugh 
Ignoring those who weep.
Correct us Lord, our golden calf
Has lulled our hearts to sleep.
The gap between the rich and poor
Grows ever wider, shore to shore.
There’s racial hate, religious war
And wolves among the sheep.

Indwell us Lord, and purify 

Our hands to work for You.

Enlist us Lord, to serve nearby 

And ʻcross the waters, too.

Your image-bearers on the earth 

Will never know how much theyʼre worth

Unless we love and help them first 

And show the way to You!

Father Let Your Kingdom Come
By Urban Doxology, Liz Vice, 
and Latifah Alattas (Page CXVI) 
2017 A.D.  

Hallelu! Hallelujah! 
Fatherlet Your Kingdom come! (x4)

May the works of my hands 
Bring You joy. (x4 + Chorus

May the words from my mouth
Speak Your peace. (x4 + Chorus

You make all things new,
You make all things new 
In places we don't choose;
You make all things new! 

Great Are You LORD
By All Sons and Daughters
2013 A.D.

You give life, You are love,
You bring light to the darkness.
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken.
Great are You, LORD.

It's Your breath in our lungs,
So we pour out our praise,
We pour out our praise.
It's Your breath in our lungs,
So we pour out our praise to You only.

All the earth will shout Your praise,
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing,
Great are You, LORD!”

By Audrey Assad
2013 A.D.

Humble and human,
Willing to bend You are
Fashioned of flesh
And the fire of life You are.
Not too proud to wear our skin,
To know this weary world we're in,
Humblehumble Jesus.

Humble in sorrow,
You gladly carried Your cross
Never refusing Your life
To the weakest of us.
Not too proud to bear our sin,
To feel this brokenness we're in,
Humblehumble Jesus.

We bow our knees,
We must decrease,
You must increase,
We lift You high.

Humble in greatness,
Born in the likeness of man.
Name above all names,
Holding our world in Your hands.
Not too proud to dwell with us,
To live in us, to die for us,
Humblehumble Jesus.

Humble, You are humble.
Make me humble like You.
We lift You high.

Yes LordYes | In My Weakness Gospel Medley
By Lynn Keesecker and Stephanie Robinson
1983 A.D., 1994 A.D.

I’ll say yesLordyes
To Your will and to Your way!
I’ll say yesLordyes
I will trust You and obey!
When Your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I’ll agree,
And my answer will be 
Yes Lordyes!

In my weakness
You my God are strong.
In my trials, You are my song.
I fall on my knees, I can’t go on,
But in my weakness,
You my God are strong.

Break Every Chain Fill Me Up Medley 
By Tasha Cobbs & Will Reagan
2013 & 2015 A.D.

There is power 
In the name of Jesus;
There is power 
In the name of Jesus;
There is power 
In the name of Jesus
To break every chain,
Break every chain,
Break every chain!

All sufficient sacrifice,
So freely given,
Such a price 
Bought My redemption,
Heaven's gates swing wide.

There's an army rising up!
There's an army rising up!
There's an army rising up
To break every chain,
Break every chain,
Break every chain!

I hear the chains falling!

To break every chain,
Break every chain,
Break every chain!

You provide the fire,
I'll provide the sacrifice.
You provide the Spirit,
I will open inside.

Fill me up, God,
Fill me up, God,
Fill me up, God,
Fill me up.

Love of God,
Would You permeate
All my soul?

Fill me up
Until I overflow!
I want to run over,
I want to run over!

390 A.D.

I believe in God
the Father almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary.

suffered under Pontius Pilate, 

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended to hell.

The third day He rose again!

He ascended to heaven

and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty;
from there He shall come
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic* Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins, 

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

*Catholic stands for Jesus' Church
"according to the whole,"
across time, cultures, and nations,
that He established
and continues to build by His
grace, truth, and resurrection power. 


Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—through the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with everything good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. + Hebrews 13:20-21

Next post: Matthew 3:12 - 4:11 | Receive Your Identity from the Father and Resist the Accuser's Lies with the Word of the Father

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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