Sunday, January 8, 2012

Baptism of Our Lord 2012
Inferiority Complex
Mark 1:4-11
January 8, 2012
Grace and peace to you in this New Year from God--Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer
It is the second Sunday of the New Year and it seems we are going backwards.
Back to the story of John the Baptist that we heard, in Advent, back to the weird man in camel hair eating 
locust and wild honey, back to the man that many thought was the reincarnation of Elijah.....
We again find him at the water, baptizing welcoming Jesus into the water.
But before we see Jesus baptized we hear John’s speech....
I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandal. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 
Sounds a little to me as though John has an inferiority complex...and no wonder! We know that Jesus is more powerful though Jesus will say that, “those born of women no one is greater than John.”
We know that Jesus will indeed baptize with the Holy Spirit. Yet John has done exactly what he was sent to do---prepare the way. Somehow John is still hesitate, he still feels inferior. We understand John,
 because we are all subject to suffer from an inferiority complex.
No matter who we are or what we do, no matter our station in life there is a moment, maybe when we are young and just starting out, perhaps when we are trying something for the first time or being pushed outside of our comfort zone when we look around us and feel like the next guy has done and is doing it better.
Or if we don’t come to that moment on our own, there is often someone who will point it out for us.
Yes your team is good but that team is better. Yes your product is okay, but that companies product is better. Yes you are smart, but that fifth grader is smarter. There is always someone who has a newer or bigger car, or house, or someone who we went to school with or our brother who is doing more and better than we are.. Pastor we like you and all but can’t you be more like pastors we had in the past.
It’s all enough to give you an inferiority complex!
Tell me is there someone in your life right now who wants you to be something other than who you are? Is there something about you that someone believes that isn’t quite right? Do you ever feel as if you are so caught up in others expectation, perhaps you are trying to be like an uncle or cousin or you are so concerned with not being able to live up to others tthat you suffer from an inferiority complex

Jesus has been there too. Remember he was born in a manger around the sheep and the cows. His mother was a young girl who got pregnant before she was married. All that is enough to cause you to feel inferior. And now he is all grown up ready to walk into this role, this ministry that he has been given.
Today John the Baptist meets Jesus by the river. They are cousins, yet John has always known that he is to come ahead of the chosen one of God, but coming first would mean that he was always second to hi cousin Jesus. 

John baptizes people at the river Jordan to call them to repent of their sins…literally to turn away from their sins and back to God.  Jesus comes over the crest of the hill and walks into the mucky waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John and John looks at him and says…I am the one who needs to be baptized, not you Jesus!  
Even John has an expectation that he wants Jesus to live up to. Jesus has to fight public opinion and this from his own family.  And Jesus tells John…do it.  God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.  So John does it. 
And just as Jesus comes out of the water, the skies open and the Spirit of God descends like a dove, lands on Jesus and a voice is heard…God’s own voice…this is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life. 
Can you imagine? Does it get any better for Jesus?  How is that for a confidence builder?  This is my son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.  
Do you believe in that moment that Jesus thought about living up to John’s expectations? Or his mother’s or anyone’s  No way!  Too many people were witness to God’s blessing.  Too many stories would travel out of the river valley and into the streets of Jerusalem, Galilee, Nazareth, perhaps all the way to Bethlehem.
In the rising from the waters Jesus had been identified as the Son of God.  Jesus had been claimed and named by his father in heaven and there was no going back.  
His course is set. 
Jesus now has the confidence to go about the work he is given to do in the world.
He is ready to preach good news, to proclaim the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus is empowered to heal and raise.
He is confidant in who he is and whose he is. So confident he can walk all the way to the cross and give himself for the forgiveness of our sins.
This confidence came as he rose from the waters of baptism, as he is named beloved by God.
It is no different for you and me.  Church, children of God, you have been risen from the waters of baptism, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. everyone…state your name, _____, you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.  
This is the beginning of your ministry, your work in the world.  Today we ask the question, Where is your confidence?  God has come as the gift of Jesus Christ to remind you that you are loved…that you have value…that you are worthy of God’s great love…that you are marked by God’s love, and the delight of God’s life.  
Today God speaks your name.  But what’s in a NAME?
A name is so very important. A name gives you the ability to  N to Notice…to be mindful…to pay attention to God’s claim on your life and what that means as you carry your identity into the world.
To Affirm…to be confident in who you are as a Child of God gifted with grace and forgiveness and promised eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
To mean something…to live with intention in the world.  To live honestly and to speak and know the truth that you may be set free and in so living, may free others to come to know the truth.
To Engage…to  walk into the moments that make us uncomfortable and to live out our identity in the world with courage and confidence that we might engage the world as servants of God and be fearless.
I believe that if we take the time to notice and affirm God’s claim on our lives we can follow our call and be fearless.  I believe that if you leave here today and seek out greater meaning—live with more intentionality as God’s servants in the world we can shake off that inferiority complex and begin to proclaim.  
Each of us can proclaim --- I am a child of God and I am fearless.
I believe that if we ask God to give us the strength to engage the world wherever we go…God will bless us and into the world we will go sharing Christ’s love 
Yes despite our inferiotity complexed we too are named and blessed in the waters of baptism, God calls our name, blesses us and sends us out into the world with confidence.
In this New Year may you remember your baptism, hear your name shouted, whispered called  you might hear God say 
You are my Son, my daughter, the Beloved, with you I am welll pleased and be blessed!

Just Rambling!

**Illustration by Dave Hammond of Aspen Artistry (check out his work on Facebook page by that name)
***Thanks to Pastor Chris Marien, Ascension Lutheran Church in Waukesha Wisconsin, who gave me permission to use parts of a sermon he preached. I give him thanks especially for The Acrostic for "name".

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