“Remember Your Baptism” January 8, 2023

Posted by on Jul 17, 2023 in Sermon archives

                                                                                                “Remember Your Baptism”

Isaiah 42:1-9

Matthew 3:13-17

quite some years ago, I met up with a young man From the grasslands of North Central California. I was in western Montana at the time, but John had a way of just showing up. We would play guitar And do our best to solve the world’s problems And then. sooner or later. John would be on his way. But it was today’s theme of baptism and being washed clean that made me think of a conversation with John About a particular sheep herder that he would visit occasionally.

Incidentally there were quite a few sheep herders in that part of California and most of them, according to John, were Spaniards  from the Basque region in the north of Spain. one old timer, in particular, became John’s favorite. whenever he could get away, he would drive up to visit and made a point of bringing snacks and magazines and whatever he might need. in return, this old keeper of sheep proceeded to tell John countless stories of his life in the old country, of sheepherding, and a wealth of lived experience that John, as a young man, found to be fascinating.

there was, however, a problem. As the season progressed, this old timer took on a certain odor That made any kind of close visitation extremely difficult.

one day John showed up with some soap and shampoo Muttering something about how this stuff was just laying around the house. But it was no good. The old timer took one look at the soap, then snorted and said simply. “Don’t need that stuff.” and that would have been that except that John wasn’t about to give up. At this point he was finally able to work up the nerve to ask the question that had been boiling inside him for months.

“Tell me” he said, “and please don’t take this the wrong way, but I just have to ask you: in all the time I’ve known you, I don’t think you’ve ever taken a bath or a shower or even a dunk in the Creek. Now it’s none of my business, but don’t you think you might feel better if you cleaned up once in a while?”

The old man didn’t say a word. he just sat there and glared, and  at this point John feared that he had crossed a line. things were getting personal and John was afraid he had went too far.  So when the old timer did speak, John Was a bit surprised and nervous at the same time.

“you wanna know why I don’t never take no baths?” he said. “Well let me ask you something: Have you ever considered that some people just don’t like to get wet?” and with that, the subject was closed never to be discussed again. I always thought though, that this was the perfect answer: “Some people just don’t like to get wet.”

If you are wondering what a Basque sheep herder has to do with the baptism of Christ, then I can’t say that I would blame you. But it seems to me that in order to have an understanding of the baptism of Christ, then we need a good understanding of baptism. And so, for the purpose of our time together here today, let’s try to simplify What baptism is all about And the best way that I know to do that is 2 tell you all that baptism is all about washing; washing and coming clean; washing To start the new day washed clean of the past.


Many of us were raised to think of baptism as some sort of hocus pocus ceremony that is absolutely necessary. I learned that some churches bring in a big bathtub to dunk folks who wish to be baptized. others simply sprinkle Holy water. I’ve also learned That the Importance of the technique has been blown a bit out of proportion over the centuries.

Battles have been waged and  blood has been shed all over the question of the proper way to do baptism. So yes, baptism is an important part of our faith journey.  We are taught that baptism is an outward expression of a deep and spiritual commitment, and by and large, that would be a good description Except for the fact but it leaves out the most important element, and that is water.

Is anyone here familiar with the word ablution? Me neither But wouldn’t you know it that Mr. Webster Defined ablution as” the ceremonial act of washing certain parts of the body or sacred containers.” Ralph Milton, who is one of my favorite Lutherans, practices a New Year’s ablution, if you will, every year. he describes it saying, “– I am writing this on New Year’s Day. 2008. Last night, I did my year-end ablution – not your normal shower thing but filling the tub with nice hot water and soaking in it for a good long while, allowing the water to penetrate the calluses and crud accumulated over the year, and then watching all the “stuff” of the year past slosh noisily down the drain.”

Pastor Adam Hamilton from the Church of the resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, Also understood the simple truth that Baptism was and is an event to wash us clean. To serve as a reminder, he wrote a prayer and had it printed on waterproof cards. Congregants were invited to hang the cards in their showers as a daily reminder. The prayer reads, “Lord, as I enter the water to bathe, I remember my baptism. Wash me by your grace. Fill me with your Spirit. Renew my soul. I pray that I might live as your child today, and honor you in all that I do.”////

“Lord, as I enter the water to bathe, I remember my baptism.” , I remember my baptism. I would venture a guess that there aren’t many here today who remember the actual moment they were baptized. What does it mean, then, to remember your baptism? Some folks like to be baptized the second time, only this time as an adult. They claim it is more meaningful And can be a spirit filled event. But I would like to propose to you a different type of remembrance. I would ask that you think back; but you think back to a moment when you felt washed clean By the living waters of Jesus Christ. It could have been during a church service Or it could have been a moment when God spoke to you without warning Saying such things as you are loved, you are forgiven, I have  called  you by your name. That’s the kind of baptism that  John the Baptist spoke of: a call to repentance and a call to be washing off the m and the grime of the sins we have packed around for so very long. that is a baptism worth remembering.

Matt 3:13)  13 At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. 14 John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?”

15 Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.”  . This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” you know, we could spend a lot of time discussing what it means to fulfill all righteousness. but for today, let’s just be thankful that our God chose to show us righteousness in the flesh, the fulfillment of that righteousness came when the Christ, the son of the living God,  went  into the Jordan river to be washed clean.

Did Jesus need to be baptized by John? Not hardly, But Matthew tells us that it was necessary. It was necessary to set an example for us. It was necessary To call upon the power of the spirit that day. it was necessary to fulfill the prophets words that our God would bring righteousness to the world. Once again from Isaiah 42, the prophet writes,  “Here is my servant, whom I strengthen—
the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.
I have filled him with my Spirit, and he will bring justice to every nation.”

So the next time that you’re in the shower Or even the hotel swimming pool, try to remember your baptism Try to remember the dirt in the sludge That the Lord has helped you scrub off. And with praise and gratitude we can remember The days when the stain of sin Was something We simply overlooked. Thanks be to God that we can be washed clean. Let Turn go damn it the joy of that moment Flow like water into our communities and our world. after all, there are plenty of God’s children Who profess with all their might ,”Some people just don’t like to get wet.”

Amen & shalom
















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