Message for Jan. 10, 2021

Worship January 10, 2021 


I welcome you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Reading of a Letter from Bishop Bard dated January 6, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ in the Minnesota Conference of The United Methodist Church,

Like many of you, I have been watching in shock, disbelief, heartbreak, disappointment, and, yes, anger, the scenes coming from our nation’s capital. I am setting the anger aside. There is already an ample surplus, and it is not needed now. Never in my most disturbing nightmares would I have imagined an unruly mob breaking into the United States Capitol Building, sending legislators and staff into a protective shelter, and interrupting the work of the Congress—work integral to the peaceful transfer of power, which is an essential dimension of political democracy.

Like many of you, I have thoughts about who bears a measure of responsibility beyond those trespassing, threatening others, or breaking windows. There will be time for analysis and thoughtful debate about this later.

Right now, what is required is calm and a lowering of emotional temperature. What is needed is prayer. Prayer for those in danger. Prayer for those seeking to restore order to our Capitol. And prayer for peace, justice, and kindness. What is required of all of us is a deepening of our commitment to the common good.

I know you join me in prayer. God, grant us grace in our praying and in our work for the common good. On this Day of Epiphany, may we reflect light and love in all we do.

Grace and peace,

David Alan Bard, Interim Bishop, Minnesota Conference

Please join in praying a prayer for peace as written by St Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life. Amen

Opening Prayer

God who watches over us, offering us light and hope, be with us this day as we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism.

Help us to remember your healing, cleansing, and claiming love for us.

Remind us again of the many ways in which you reach out to us.

May the image of the waters be for us an image of hope.

Bring us closer to you, loving God.

Embrace us again with your love. We open our hearts to you this day. AMEN.

Hymn    UMH # 196   Come Thou Long Expected Jesus      (verses 1 and 2)

Scripture                                             Mark 1:4-11 (NRSV)

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Jesus

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”


Have you ever been asked what sign you were born under? You know like those born March 21st to April 19 are Aries and Leos are born between July 22nd and August 22nd or like me a Sagittarius born between November 21st and December 21st.

I’ve read that your sign, also known as your Sun sign, is based on a range of dates for all lasting about a month. If you were born within a certain date range of the astrology system, you then align with that specific zodiac signs. So as a November 27th baby I was born under the zodiac of Sagittarius.

I personally don’t have much interest in knowing this kind of stuff but for some people it is very important.

There is another much more important answer to the question of what sign you were born under – you were born under the sign of the cross!

We Receive Our Identity from Others, From the Expectations Of Friends & Colleagues, From the Labels Society Puts Upon Us, & From the Influence Of Family and friends.

To become Christian is to receive a NEW IDENTITY. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you & instructs you. A Christian is one who has “PUT ON CHRIST.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person.

That is why the church’s ritual begins with …

Brothers and sisters in Christ:
Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church.
We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.

We also believe that in baptism God INITIATES a covenant with us, announced with the words, “the Holy Spirit Works Within You, That Being Born Through Water & the Spirit, You May Be A Faithful Disciple Of Jesus Christ.”

This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the Cross on the forehead with water. The word COVENANT is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel 2 be a people with a special mission in the world, & Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness.

The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.


Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism.

At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “THIS IS MY SON.”

While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, For Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, OUR TRUE IDENTITY, is that we are NOW SONS & DAUGHTERS OF GOD.

That is why the introduction to the Baptismal Covenant states, “We Are Incorporated into God’s Mighty Acts Of Salvation & Given New Birth

Through Water & the Spirit.” the introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament Of Baptism, We Are Initiated Into Christ’s Holy Church.”


From the beginning, baptism has been the DOOR through which one enters the church. It was UNIMAGINABLE to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting denials and refusals, affirming one’s faith in Christ & loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith.

As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

So why do we why baptize babies?

I was baptized as a baby at Hope Lutheran Church in Minneota, MN. I don’t know the date, but I know it was when I was a baby.

From the earliest times, children & infants were baptized & included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words,

“Let the little children come to me…for it is too such as these that that kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).

However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a MEANS OF GRACE, signifies GOD’S INITIATIVE in the process of salvation.

  • John Wesley preached “PREVENIENT GRACE,” the grace that works in our lives before we are even aware of it, therefore bringing us to faith.
  • the baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid & compelling witness to prevenient grace.

The Methodist church believes baptism is forever – from that infant to death.

Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace & a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. There is no need to be baptized twice – I like to think of it as “God gets it right the first time”.

However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. You might wonder about these commitments. If we were babies how did we make commitments? Well we didn’t!

Parents and perhaps sponsors take vows at the time of an infant’s baptism. These vows are

Will you nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life?

Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

Will you nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life?

If you have ever been a parent of or sponsored a child in baptism in the UMC these are the commitments, you made. Although Baptism is a one-time event it is a lifetime commitment to those of us taking the vow.

It is not only the parents or sponsors that take this life-time vow. All of us in the congregation on the day of the baptism take also vows – make promises.

After addressing the parents and sponsors the pastor addresses the congregation, and the congregation responds:

Do you, as Christ’s body, the Church, reaffirm both your rejection of sin and your commitment to Christ?

Will you nurture one another in the Christian faith and life and include these persons now before you in your care?

With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ.
We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others.
We will pray for them, that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.

From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can ONLY CIRCUMSCRIBE what happens, BUT NOT DEFINE IT.

We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life.

That is the most sacred and profound mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

To this container of water I have added a rock to represent every person listed in the church directory for Mora and for Ogilvie United Methodist Churches.

Let us pray

We give thanks for all that God has already given us.
As members together in the body of Christ and in these congregations of The United Methodist Church, we renew our covenant faithfully to participate in the ministries of the Church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness,
that in everything God may be glorified
through Jesus Christ.

The God of all grace,
who has called us to eternal glory in Christ,
establish each person and strengthen them
that they may live in grace and peace. Amen

Portions of this message are taken From A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism

Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Creator God, when everything first began, water became a symbol of refreshing, of washing away, of renewing.

Through the waters of creation you brought forth abundant life.

We have gathered this day to remember Jesus’ baptism, how when he came up out of the water your Spirit proclaimed that He was your beloved Son in whom you were very well pleased.

Our spirits resound with that proclamation.

In His baptism, Jesus’ ministry was initiated.

He dedicated his life to you completely and without reservation.

Help us to dedicate our lives to you, to offer our best for you, to be of service to you by serving in your world.

As we have lifted before you the names of people near and dear to us who need your healing touch and your tender mercies, we have also lifted ourselves up as people in need of your grace.

Our world is in the midst of strife; wars, oppression, famine, hunger, alienation, situations in which we have abused the world and each other.

Heal us and this world, Lord.

Renew us with your life-giving waters and re-affirm our baptisms as your children.

Let us go forth to be people of peace and mercy.

We pray all these things in the name of our Lord Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray as one, saying…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

HYMN TFWS #2248                          Baptized in water (all verses)

Communion and Prayer of Thanksgiving              

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine.

Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory are yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.

The body of Christ, given for you. Amen.            

The blood of Christ, given for you. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery
in which you have given yourself to us.

Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


As Christians, we take our gifts, and they are blessed. Our gifts are stronger when blessed and offered to God.

Together we can serve the needs of this community and the world around us- from victims of disaster to the hungry and homeless – our gifts matter.

We give, and by some miracle, our gifts become blessed and are transformed into acts of mercy, justice, and grace. Your offering is important to the church and all that are served.

Prayer of Dedication

God, you have given each of us gifts to use as members of the body of Christ. Here are our gifts – the work of our hands, our hearts, and our lives. We pray that they may help to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our world, today and always, here and everywhere. Ame

HYMN   UMH # 500          Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart Verses 1 and 5)


Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.

Posted in ,