Monday, January 9, 2012

Baptism - Water or Holy Spirit?

As Reverend Katerina Whitley states in her sermon for this week:
Jesus comes like all the other people who come to John, and is baptized. God arrives to us without fanfare, in the ordinariness of our lives, and we don’t recognize him. He comes enfleshed, from distant, unimportant Nazareth – not from the significant city of Jerusalem, but from Nazareth! Jesus enters the waters as a human being and emerges from the waters with the unshakable assurance that he is God’s Son, the Beloved.
 As we see in Mark 1:11, God provides a private assurance to His Son that, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 

How many of us have been baptized in Holy Spirit, as Paul describes in Acts 19:1-7?  How many have received gifts of the holy spirit, described in Corinthians 12:7-11?
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
 How many are believed when we receive that private assurance from God that we have received those gifts?  And how many of us acknowledge that we have received them?  Explored how we might use them in service to God and His creations?  How many deny their gifts, and act as if they have been baptized with water?

The readings this week lead to a fascinating contemplation of why Jesus chose to be baptized with water; why God made His assurance to His Son a private one; and how many of us accept the baptism by the Holy Spirit when we receive it. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Naming Day!

Today would, by tradition of the Church celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas, be Christ's naming day, or Bris/Berit Mila.  When a parent gives a child a name, the parent is giving the child a connection to previous generations.  As we see in Matthew, Chapter 1, Jesus comes from a long line of notable people in history.  The Bris, Berit Mila must take place for an infant boy at eight days of age. If this is performed before the child is eight days old, it is not considered valid. The reasoning behind waiting for eight days is that everything was created in seven days. When a child is eight days old, the child has surpassed the physical world and entered a world far more spiritual. Mila is a sacred religious rite and not merely a hygienic practice. The Jewish parents accept this as a normal part of life.

"Jesus" is a transliteration, occurring in a number of languages and based on the Latin Iesus, of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), itself a hellenization of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yĕhōšuă‘, Yeshua) or Hebrew-Aramaic יֵשׁוּעַ (Yēšûă‘), both meaning God delivers or God rescues.

Names are important in the Bible, both when self-taken (the change from Saul (meaning responded or prayed for) to Paul (meaning small or humbled)), and when changed by God (Abram (biblical patriarch) to Abraham (father of multitudes); Sarai (my princess) to Sarah (princess)).  At this start of this New Year, think about what your name means - and what you want it to stand for.  How would *you* like to be known in history?