Pastor's Page
Pastor Brad Luck
January 12, 2020
From the Church Office 1/15/20


Well Pleased: The Baptism of the Lord

At the beginning of a new year it is an appropriate time for the church to pause and reflect on the past year or years and consider where God is leading us into the coming year. If we are honest, we do not always do a good job of this. We find it easier to continue along the same path, even when that path is no longer producing fruit. We are creatures of habit. We find ourselves doing the same things year after year, expecting different results, but instead we become disappointed. Taking time for reflection and making changes toward growth is what we are called to do. In the church, this is one of the reasons we begin a new year with two important services that help us to take the time to reflect and refocus, especially as we try to get back in the rhythm of church attendance after the holidays.

The first of the services, serve as a marker to the church’s identity. In a time of unsettledness, we return to the foundational theology of who we are as a people. As some may remember last week, we began with an awestruck reflection on the activity of God who chose to put on flesh and dwell among us. Wise men from afar came seeking a child of importance to which a bright star in the sky shown to lead them. They came to worship the child and witnessed the wonderful event. And yet there were those close by that paid no attention and missed the whole thing. Epiphany is core to our understanding of who Jesus is, and it is worthy of reaffirmation in the life of the church each year. It sets a foundation for why we gather and what we are called to be.

This week, we pause again to reflect on the gift given to us as we claim the grace of Jesus through our baptism. It is an appropriate time for celebration of baptism in the life of the church. It is an appropriate time for those families with children to be baptized, or youth or adults who seek to join the church. And for those who have been baptized it is time to be reminded of the vows made and reaffirm the grace received through the water of baptism. Yet when we read the text from Matthew, we miss out on the importance of the event. For some of us, there is debate over how much water there must be, or the exact words of the liturgy should be. For John, the question was about who should baptize who.

John, at seeing Jesus, expected to be baptized by Jesus. John says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you and yet you want me to baptize you?” Jesus responds in a nonsensical way, “Let it be so for now.”

The “now” is important. Now is about Jesus’ identification with humanity, not about the essential nature of the Christ. It is about the “righteousness” he is fulfilling and the righteousness of the mission that he came to fulfill.

Reluctantly John consents, but his consent doesn’t sound wholehearted, John has misgivings and he doesn’t quite see the big picture yet. We we assume John baptizes Jesus, since there is really very little said about the actual baptism. For in the very next verse it says “when Jesus had been baptized.” What! Did we miss something? We didn’t even have a chance to get our cameras out and get a picture of the event!

Perhaps it isn’t about the amount of water used or the position of the body, or the right formula or specific words spoken. Maybe it isn’t about the person being baptized at all. Maybe it’s about the relationship that is established in that sacrament – a relationship with the God who pours down grace and a relationship with the community that receives the grace-filled new member of the body of Christ.

John may not have been able to see the big picture; for when the heavens were opened and a voice from heaven proclaimed, God was not hesitant in claiming the moment wholeheartedly. God opens the heavens and says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

So, who were these words for? Was it only for Jesus to hear? What about John? This announcement seems to be addressed to everyone who was present. Clearly, it is for us as well, the church that would be constituted through baptism. It is so that we know Jesus claimed solidarity with us by submitting to a baptism of repentance, even though he was without sin and had no need of repentance. But it is also that we share in the pleasure of God who claims us as beloved children. This is why we celebrate baptism, celebrate belonging, celebrate that God is well pleased with the body of Christ. It is about our relationship with God.

I explained the process for coming forward to reaffirm their baptisms during worship. As each person came forward, they would have the sign of the cross made with water from the fount. That person then would in turn dip their fingers in the water and place the sign of the cross on the person behind them in line, until all had come forward. I watched as women, men, youth and children had their opportunity to receive and to give. Smiles were upon their faces as they symbolically baptized each other. This is how it should be when we fulfill our baptismal vows through Jesus’ command to, “Go into all the world making disciples of Jesus Christ and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Amen.

Joys & Concerns 1/12/20
Prayers: Prayers for Paul Rogers who is going through hard times; for Mark Massingill, who is going in for testing to see if treatment has helped; continued prayer for Steve Buhl, Mike Brooks, Pete Zayms who has stage 4 cancer; Hannah with her heart and health issues; for Jody Misiak as she starts preventative chemotherapy; for Pattie, who is hospitalized after a fall.

Joys: Jody Misiak says thanks for prayers for her recovery; Elwyn Labert is recovering at home and is doing better.
Calendar of Ministry Opportunities

Tuesday Jan 14 10 am Prayer Group
  7 pm Administrative Council Meeting
Wednesday Jan 15 10 am Grief Support Meeting
  7 pm Choir Practice
Thursday Jan 16 9 am Sweat Sister’s Exercise Class
  7 pm UMW Meeting
Friday Jan 17 6 am Sweat Sister’s Boot Camp
Saturday Jan 18 9 am Sweat Sister’s Exercise Class
Sunday Jan 19 9 am Sunday School
  10:30 am Morning Worship

Altar Flower Chart – The Altar Flower chart for 2020 has been posted in the Fellowship Hall on the wall to the left as you enter the kitchen doorway.  You may sign up for one or more available Sundays to give flowers in memory of someone or in honor of a birthday, an anniversary or a special occasion.  This arrangement will be on the altar during Sunday morning worship, a notation will be in the bulletin, and you may take it home with you after the Sunday service to enjoy the rest of the week.  Cost is $20 per Sunday.  Please put your payment in an envelope with your name and “Altar Flowers” written on it and drop it in the offering plate on a Sunday morning.

Reminder – The youth are still collecting clean, empty, returnable bottles and cans as an on-going fundraiser.  There is a large black container in the Fellowship Hall to leave the bottles in for your convenience.  This is an easy way for you to support our youth and their various projects.  It is very much appreciated.  Thanks in advance!

Greeters & Welcome Center hosts needed -- We continue to ask for volunteers to be greeters at both entrances and for welcome center persons to help visitors and members with questions. Sign-up sheets are in the Fellowship Hall on the Opportunities Table. Please consider volunteering for a Sunday.

Dundee UMC Endowment Fund -- As you make long-range financial decisions for yourself and your family, please remember the Dundee United Methodist Church Endowment Fund. A gift to this fund, no matter the size, offers an opportunity to continue your giving for generations and ensures the church and its ministries are sustained for the years to come. Ten Percent of the dividends are reinvested back into the fund as principle and the remaining 90% is used for church maintenance projects, programs and missions.  For more information, please contact the church office.

Calling All Dingalings – The chime choir is in need of a couple of new chimers starting after the first of the year.  You absolutely do not need to know how to read music.  As long as you can count to four (repeatedly), you’re perfect for the chimers.  If interested, please contact Kristen Olsen at 734-693-9088.  Our next rehearsal will be Monday, February 3, at 6:45 pm.

It’s Super Bowl Sub Sale Time!  For the low price of just $10 a sandwich, you can have a freshly made-to-order 12” sub to eat during the Super Bowl on February 2!  Order forms are on the Welcome Center.  Please leave your completed order form in the basket on the welcome center.  Thank you for supporting our UMYF!  Orders and payment (cash or checks made out to Dundee United Methodist Church) due by 1/26/20, subs prepared and ready for pick-up 2/2/20 after worship.

Birthdays this week:
  Sunday Jan 12 Jessica Pellman
  Tuesday Jan 14 John Hoffman
  Wed Jan 15 Sherry Simpkins
  Thursday Jan 16 Bill Gauss, Veronica Moore
Anniversaries this week:
  There are no anniversaries this week.    
  Have a blessed week!  

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