Sunday Services: 8:30AM and 10:30AM

Wednesday Service: 9:30AM


REV. JODI BARON – January 10, 2016 – 1 EPIPHANY, YEAR C: LUKE 3:15-17,21-22

“ Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”


In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Good morning.


I’m sure you’re wondering right now, “there must be an misprint. Jen was supposed to be preaching this morning.”


Well, it’s not a misprint. You have me in her proxy this morning because, unfortunately, she sustained a back injury late last week and has been recovering at home. She wanted me to assure you she is on the healing path and will return to the office soon, just not yet today.


But do not fear! Isn’t that what the prophet Isaiah told us this morning?


God was speaking to his people through Isaiah in those days of a time when profound healing would take place. That promise of the eschaton, right?


Thus says the Lord,

he who created you, O Jacob,

he who formed you, O Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”


Baptism, as we practice it in most Episcopal Churches, is somewhat of a more “practical” expression than visceral, like the waters of the Jordan likely were for Christ, when his cousin, John, baptized him.


Show of hands, how many of you, at your baptism, were submerged into the waters and then brought back up by the minister?


How many of you had a shell of water poured over your head, or sprinkles dotted on you?


How many of you remember your baptism?


Memory is a tricky thing, you see.


For some of us, we can say that we remember our baptisms because we were older when we made that commitment to the church, when we publically accepted our belovedness.


For others, that memory is deeper, it is extended to us through our loved ones who witnessed it and made promises on our behalf.


For us, neither one is more special or right. Because the act of baptism is a gift, no matter when it is administered. Whether you were two weeks old or 92 years old, Baptism is as much about the one being baptized as it is about the body of Christ which makes promises too. It is the primary way, our Church teaches, one enters into the mystical body of Christ. It’s, for thousands of years, the Rite by which we become woven into the DNA of Christ and thus his body, the Church.


And in the 1979 prayer book, the one we get our liturgies from today, the theology of our church makes a shift, of sorts, in how we see this sacrament.


It took the sacrament of baptism out of the privacy of the family unit and extended it to a public declaration and incorporation, thus restoring the more ancient understanding, I think, of what we are doing when we Die, Rise, and make promises to Live for Christ through baptism.


It is found directly following the Great Vigil of Easter and right before Eucharist. Order, you see, is important when it comes to the composition of our Book of Common Prayer. It, as Leonel Mitchell says,

shapes our believing.


You’ve heard the phrase, “Baptismal Covenant,” right?


In theological terms, or in God-talk, a covenant is something that brings about relationship of commitment between God and his people.

It isn’t just about the one making the covenant.

At each baptism the whole body remembers their baptism by reciting the Baptismal Covenant.


Those promises that God makes with us and we with him… “with God’s help,” we say.


In this morning’s Gospel, from Luke, we read,

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’


Jesus, himself was baptized and declared from heaven as God’s beloved, so by extension, we can be called sons and daughters of The Most High, as well.


Sons and Daughters of God.


Worthy of dignity and respect, without clauses to remind us of who qualifies, but by mere act of creation, we are God’s beloved.


One of my favorite authors, and new Episcopalians, Rachel Held Evans, says in her book “Searching for Sunday,”


“Jesus did not begin to be loved at the moment of his baptism, nor did he cease to be loved when his baptism became a memory. Baptism simply named the reality of his existing and unending belovedness.”


And Saint Basil (the brother of the getting-better-known-saint Naucratius and better known brother Gregory) said,

As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Savior, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed.”

So, brothers and sisters. On this day, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, I call on you to also remember your baptism as we live into this season of Epiphany and stand with me to renew our Baptismal Covenant.


The Baptismal Covenant


Celebrant Do you believe in God the Father?
People I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting.

Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and

fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the


People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever

you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

People I will, with God’s help.


Celebrant Will you proclaim by word and example the Good

News of God in Christ?

People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving

your neighbor as yourself?

People I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you strive for justice and peace among all

people, and respect the dignity of every human


People I will, with God’s help.
Brown Baggin’ It

Sermon by The Reverend Christian Baron Pentecost 9. Proper 12. Year B John 6:1-21


“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

In the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit….


This past spring, while I was on a trip to Texas with our College, 20s and 30’s ministry, my priest friend said, “Christian. I got a call from a parishioner who just harvested a Nilgai from an exotic species ranch. It’s a 400 pound animal and he has donated it. We need to go pick it up and butcher it. We’ll put it into bags and then we can drop it off at the food bank.”

On Friday,  I went fishing with a parishioner… over near Hopkins.  It came about like this. “Hey Bruce. There is a high school mission trip at Grace on Tuesday. The youth will work during the day, eat dinner with the bishop and then we will all go to the beach for compline and a bishop’s blessing. Part of the work will happen at the Community Kitchen at Western Seminary. Jim Piersma will cook up Lake Trout that some local fishermen caught and donated and then we’ll do some much needed deep cleaning of the kitchen and dining room.  I need your help Bruce.  I want them to notice what we are eating. I want to feed them a unique dinner and tell them about people who don’t have a lot of money or food to eat. Let’s go catch some pan fish and fry them up for them and tell them about the hungry in Holland. And by the way, can you cook fry the fish for the twenty of us that will be there?”

Yesterday, I had a phone call on Saturday from my cousin. “Christian… what are you doing?  Do you want some fish? I have three big King Salmon and a giant pig of a Lake Trout.  Meet me at the fish cleaning station by the boat launch in 30 minutes. Bring zip-locks.”

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”

You may know somebody else who has been willing to share their fish… or their table… or their Nilgai…

Did you know that the story from the gospel today… the feeding of the five thousand… appears in all four of the gospels.  This is a pretty big deal because there are very few parts of the gospels that share the same or similar accounts of the same event. This means that it was a story that spread throughout Christianity and that Christian communities held tightly to it. They passed it down orally from village to village and from family to family. It was so important that all four authors of the gospels made sure it was included in their accounts of the life of Jesus.

There are a few things about John’s account though that set it apart a bit from the other synoptic gospels.  The first one is that this is the only account of the five loaves and two fish coming from a person. The text says, “From a boy.” And though it doesn’t say so, I think the boy willingly gave up his lunch.  (but it is kind of comical to think about the disciples taking matters into their own hands).

And this is just one account… one story of a boy… of a Christian… of a human… sacrificing something of value to fill the bellies… or hearts… or souls of those that he didn’t even know. A Nilgai… an afternoon fishing for pan fish… 40 pounds of King salmon and lake trout…. a living room for a hymn sing… Standing out in our parking lot on a cold Thursday night in February, waiting to offer hungry people food… a week gleaning fields in Arkansas in the blistering hot sun… A Wednesday morning feeding our neighbors at Western Seminary’s community kitchen… offering the chalice to a new member… offering the chalice to a member who has been here for 50 years…  and there are many, many others.

Another unique aspect of John’s account of this story is how he describes what Jesus does with the bread and fish. Does this sound familiar? “Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them.” John was intentionally using Eucharistic language. Certainly paralleling the last supper and the same ritual that we practice today, 2000 years later.

Once again, I can’t help but think of the Nilgi… the pan fish… the King Salmon and Lake Trout…. When all things come of thee oh Lord…. we hold things loosely. We remember those who go without… We go out of our way…. We sacrifice… Because that’s what was modeled.  Because that’s what has been passed down from the first followers of Jesus to those who have helped to form us.

Yes, this practice of generosity and sacrifice has been passed down.  Saint Naucratius lived in the fourth century. He was the brother of Gregory of Nyssa and Basil the great. Maybe you have heard of his brothers, but I’ll bet you haven’t heard of Naucratius.  Like his brothers he had a deep spirituality and a robust love for the god-life. But Naucratius wasn’t into politics and was less polished than the rest of the family. He left the public life to move out into the desert to pray and to focus. Think John the Baptist). He became a great hunter and capable fisherman. And, like many of the stories today, God provided him with more than he needed. He too offered his lunch to God. There was a poor community with many elderly who could not feed themselves. So, Naucratius fed them. He would bring his fish and game to the community to provide for their needs. And the only other thing we know about him is that he died doing what he loved. There are conflicting accounts about whether he died while hunting or while fishing,  but he certainly died sacrificing for the good of the poor.

And we have baptisms today. And we get to model to these young ones… what we know to be true… What the local fishermen know to be true… What Naucratius knew to be true… In God’s economy, there is plenty.

We get the chance, to help mold and shape the future. With our hands and our feet…  not only can we do the physical work of Christ… not only will the Church be the physical presence of Jesus, but we can also model Jesus for these little ones… so that the story will continue to be passed down… so it will continue to be lived… Soon, they will be the ones holding brown paper bags filled with five loaves and 2 fish.  They too can offer their lunches back to God and watch God feed the masses.

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”