A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.


PRELUDE                                         “Holy Holy”                                      Jimmy Owens


GATHERING SONG                “This Is the Spirit’s Entry Now”            red book # 448


KYRIE                                                                                     red book page 184 (set eight)



GENESIS 1:1–5                                 


ACTS 19:1–7                                       

MARK 1:4–11        

SERMON                                                                                             Pastor Chris Halverson                                         

Learning God’s loving Word, we invite others to faith, share God’s blessings, and serve all.

1.     Jesus is Lord and Savior.

2.    The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything.

3.    Baptism is only the beginning of our shared life in the Risen Christ.

4.    Prayer opens us to God.

5.    God guides us through the Bible.

6.     Listening to God and one another takes us beyond our differences.

7.     Welcoming all and helping others center us on God.

That is the purpose statement and guiding principles of this church. If you stop and reflect upon this document, you quickly realize it is richly theological and that it boils down a great deal of what it means to be church into a very small statement.

Yet there are dangers to statements like this.

We can say, “Whew, we finally finished writing that thing… we’re glad to be done,” and put it away in a desk somewhere, never letting it shape our life together.

Or all the valleys of deep thinking and hills of good intentions that went into the document are flattened out into 71 abstract words. We have the words on our lips, but their meaning and objective are far from our hearts.

Maybe its my inner-Luther coming out, but I can’t help but prod these statement a little—I can’t help but ask the same question of these 7 statements that Luther asked of the 10 commandments. He asked, and I echo, “What does this mean?”

And so, on this Sunday in which we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. On this Sunday in which we have read from the beginning of Genesis–I would like to hold up this church’s third guiding principle, “Baptism is only the beginning of our shared life in the Risen Christ.”

And, for the sake of today’s sermon I would ask you to step out of your comfort zone for at least a few minutes. I would ask that when I say, “Baptism is only the beginning,” you respond “What Does This Mean?”

I’m not asking you to do this as a gimmick, but because I want you to internalize this question. I want it to become natural for members of this church to ask how our guiding principles are to be lived out.

So let’s try this. “Baptism is only the beginning…What does this mean?”

Baptism is only the beginning…What does this mean?”

Let us pray

Baptism is only the beginning…What does this mean?”

The totality of our scriptures begin with a poetic description of the world before creation—in the process of creation.

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was Xformless and void and darkness covered the face of the Xdeep, while a X wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”

Did you hear that—at the very start of our scripture water and wind—water and spirit—were entangling together in creative ways that brought about the goodness of God. If you read on in Genesis each day of creation, each creative action of God’s Spirit, is called Good.

However, it isn’t quite that simple. While the creative interaction of God’s Spirit-and-water leads toward goodness—water itself is complex.

Water is like it’s opposite—fire—which can heat a home or burn it down. Water can quench thirst or drown someone. Anyone who has been on a ship in a storm knows of this double nature.

And this water in Genesis is the DEEP. This is dangerous water—the dark and deep waters of which you can’t see the bottom—water as unyielding and frightening as the formless and void earth.

And that’s important to remember—if we claim that the very start of scripture points to our baptismal vocation—

and I think it is clear that those who chose these readings for our celebration of Jesus’ Baptism insist upon this.

If we claim Genesis one as Baptismal—God’s breath—God’s wind—God’s Spirit swept over the face of the waters. Even in the lifeless desolation of the Deep God’s Spirit is there—transforming the waters—breathing life into the dead and creating a new beginning.

Baptism is only the beginning… what does this mean?”

First, it means the very start of scripture foreshadows Baptism… If we want to think of our Baptism as starting our life of faith it is a good idea to look and see that this first image of baptism is followed by 100’s of pages written over thousands of years. It’s only the beginning… it is the start of a long and continued relationship.

Second, it means our baptismal life should be leading us toward the goodness of God. Just as water and Spirit created an ongoing world that God has deemed Good—our life together should be leading us toward the goodness of God.

Third, it tells us the good news that God’s Spirit, which we receive at Baptism, is tough. The Spirit can take the Deep, it can sweep over and stick with us even through the most disastrous and destructive of times.

Baptism is only the beginning…what does this mean?”

When we turn to the Baptism of Jesus, we find a similar story to that which we find in Genesis. We find both danger and connection, both love and temptation.

As I mentioned to the Monday Afternoon Bible Study we find Isaiah 2.0—that is chapters 40-55 of the book of Isaiah—describing the return of those captured in Babylon as on par with Moses bringing his people up out of Egypt.

Yet, by the time we get to Isaiah 2.1—that is chapters 56-66—we find the people who have returned are disappointed—the return hasn’t been a second Exodus.

Well—it is likely that is part of what John the Baptizer is responding to at the Jordon.

He is symbolically taking up the character of Moses—his Baptism is finishing the 2nd Exodus, it is bringing the people out of the desert through the waters.

And in the midst of all this—comes Jesus.

And, as John brings Jesus through the waters the heavens part—In fact the heavens tear apart. A word that does not occur again until Jesus’ death—when the curtains of the temple are torn apart. In both of these instances an epiphany occurs—we realize the separation between God and humans has been ripped asunder, and there—like a dove—is the spirit. We recognize that God’s beloved son has bridged the gap between heaven and earth. Through water and the spirit we see Jesus connecting us to God’s love.

And at the same time, if we were to peek forward, beyond this glorious affirmation from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased,” we would find the same secondary aspect of water and the spirit. We would find the Deep yet again. For you see, immediately after this message Jesus is driven out in the wilderness to be tempted by Satan—driven out into a formless and void wasteland.

Baptism is only the beginning…what does this mean?”

First, it means that through Baptism God tears open the wall separating us from God. God bridges the gap between the Holy and the Human.

Second, it doesn’t give us false hope. It makes sure we know that the temptations and hardships of life are not at an end.

Baptism is only the beginning…what does this mean?”

Baptism changes our relationship with God, our lives are brought into Jesus’ life and Jesus’ death and in that God comes near.

Near to us on our long continuous life together, through thick and thin, temptations and wilderness.

A lifelong calling being part of the creative goodness of God.

Baptism is only the beginning…what does this mean?”

HYMN of the DAY                     “When Jesus Came to Jordan”                 red book # 305






OFFERTORY  ANTHEM                     “Lord, Here Am I”



COMMUNION SONG                                                                   red book pg.208

“Let There Be Peace on Earth”  also red # 456, red # 800



SENDING SONG           “Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized”        red book # 304