Sermon for 10 January 2021


We talk about new starts all the time. One of the trends is de-cluttering- to get rid of some of the old stuff around the house. (Here I am just talking about material possessions not human beings)
I recently heard of a unique way to do that -after the pandemic When you are invited over to someone’s house just take some of the items you are trying to get rid of and put it in an obvious place, like a kitchen shelf or a coffee table and then watch the discussion about who owns it. The hosts will likely keep it because they don’t know how it got there. But then be careful because it may end up back at your place.
How many times in your life have you thought that you needed a new start? But you were afraid of doing it because it meant giving up more than you were willing to give up. You were not sure if your new start was worth, what you would lose.
Many times people have told me that they would like to just disappear and start over. I suggest that they change their name and all their contacts and move to a place where no one knows them. There are a couple I have not heard from since I advised that, but mostly people say that is too big a change.
So what does a new start look like?
In the scripture today Jesus is making a new start. He gets baptised by John. That is a huge statement. Jesus already had his Brit Milah, when he was circumcised on the eighth day of his life. He may have taken part in the weekly ritual bathing but to come out in public and be baptised by John was a big statement.
Jesus was leaving the past and joining the future.
He had grown up in a observant Jewish home. He had been circumcised, made the visit to the temple when he was 12 and we assume he took part in regular weekly rituals. He was about 30 years of age when he decided on the baptism
Something made him reassess his life at that point. It might have been his frustration with being a carpenter but knowing he should be something else. It might have been anger over what he felt was injustice of the religious system. We don’t know exactly but we do know he felt it was time to make a change. So he got John to baptise him.
But a baptism is only a symbol. It is nothing magical.
People will sometimes ask me if they get their child baptised will they be a better kid. You already know the answer to that.
There has to be more than just a simple action that lasts a few minutes.
If you really want a change you can’t drag your past into the future.
I recently ran across a poet by the name of Wattney. She wrote a book called Black Sheep (I told her I would let people know it was available on Amazon if I could use her quote). She writes “Forgiving didn’t start with them. It didn’t begin when they changed their actions. Forgiving started when I forgave myself for holding on to those moments of the past and stopped projecting them into my future on replay.”
In other words if you keep dragging up the past hurts, you never move on.
It is more than just letting go of the past. It is embracing the future.
In the Gathering Magazine which is a guide of worship service suggestions, put out by the United Church there was a great analogy. It is about making pickles. It says when you are making pickles the first thing you do, is wash them but that doesn’t make them into pickles. In order to complete the job you need to immerse them in a brine of spices and vinegar and leave them there until they are infused with the flavour.
Likewise in life the mere baptism doesn’t do much except start the process. The person then needs to be immersed in the community. This is where the church comes in.
You do want to be careful what community you become immersed in. We saw a demonstration of people this week who were very involved in their beliefs of a false election. Group mentality took over and damage was done to both the physical and the emotional situation in the United States.
Over history we have seen many times when people were submerged into ideologies or cults that turned out to be detrimental to their lives and the lives of many others. So choose wisely.
Jesus surrounded himself with his disciples. They were of like mind and so they were able to encourage and re-inforce their new values. They traveled together and ate together. The early Christians basically lived together
One caution is to say don’t completely surround yourself with church people. You will get fat on the cookies but more importantly if your circle is too small then it borders on being a cult. There are lots of Christian minded and spiritually minded people in our present world and in history. Read their stories. Hear their wisdom.
Another caution is to say – While you need to leave your past, don’t completely erase it. You learned many valuable lessons. Every time you have an experience, good or bad, you learn.
Jesus was starting a new chapter in his life. It didn’t mean he needed to leave everything behind but he did have to leave behind whatever was holding him back. He needed to focus on where he was going
This sermon doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people are very content right where they are. Some people feel they are perfectly fine. If you are one of those people I would suggest that you ask your relatives what they think.
In reality we all come to a point once or often when we feel that there is more to life. There is an expression that everyone has a God-shaped hole in our hearts that needs to be filled.
Spend some time this year reading, meditating, sharing and growing in your faith. We all need it.
God, every day when the sun comes up we realise it is a new beginning. We are surrounded by memories but also by the possibility of new experiences. We may complain about it being morning but in reality we thank you for that gift. Help us, God to use our experiences and the collective wisdom of our world to improve not just ourselves but also those around us. Keep bringing that restlessness that moves us forward toward the vision of a better world.
We pray in silence, for those who need special care at this time…..
Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in 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. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen
SERVICE January 10, 2021
Etransfer info at bottom of page
Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Hugh, Marion
Opening Prayer
Hymn – What Child is This
Scripture Mark 1: 4-11
Reflection Re-Immersion
Lord’s Prayer
Hymn Spirit of Gentleness 375
Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing
The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0
An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)
Send the Etransfer to
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks