Gather ‘round the font and let Scripture’s words make this (point to the font) “The Memory Bowl”
that has us remembering three symbols waiting to be turned into three resolutions to carry into and keep in 2018.
The first symbol is a STAR traced back to an unnamed Hebrew poet:
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
“The Memory Bowl” where we remember the Creator’s Voice swept over “the face of the waters” and chaos and darkness were dispelled with a piercing light,
which, millenniums later, took the shape of a spectacular STAR,
calling scholars from the East to travel in search of a new world leader,and finding that Light to be the ongoing evidence of a Creator Who keeps on creating.
The STAR – calls us to make our first New Year’s resolution:
To believe God has not abandoned us, that God is forever working to bring order out of chaos and dispel darkness – with a piercing light breaking into our world and ourselves.
A resolution which has us confessing:
“I believe in God, the Creator, of the heavens and the earth,”
which the United Church of Christ in its founding, echoed in the words:
“We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who called worlds into being…”
Our first resolution:
To live believing that is Who God still is, and so we will awaken to each new day to resolve to live in that faith.
“The Memory Bowl” which on this Sunday that takes us fast-forward to the Baptism of Jesus, a SHELL (hold up the Baptismal shell) echoes the scene described in today’s Gospel,
…Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
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.
And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
God literally tearing apart, breaking through the heavens, letting nothing get in God’s way to come to earth
as “God with us”- in Jesus.
The SHELL, calls us to make our second resolution:
To get to know the God Who is seen in Jesus as we turn away from the media and all the voices blasting
their way into our minds and emotions, and open the Bible to the Gospel writers who paint a word-
picture to step into and see God taking on our humanness;
God literally immersed in Jesus to, in turn, be immersed in us.
As we pick up and hold the SHELL, we listen to the Apostle Paul saying:
John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come
after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
At the Memory Bowl let the SHELL carry the echo of the first question and answer in the Heidelberg Catechism,
“What is your only comfort in life and in death?
“That I, in body and soul, in life and in death, belong to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Words which prompt our second resolution:
To remember our Baptismal-Confirmation vows is to re-affirm, re-commit to live each day under the
Lordship of Jesus and let that allegiance influence what we say and what we do.
A STAR and a SHELL – reminders of two resolutions meant to outlast all the other resolutions that may be made,
and there is one more.
The CUP – calls us to make our third New Year’s resolution:
To believe that God Who poured Himself into Jesus, pours Himself into us, a pouring we remember and a
resolution we renew each time we come to the Table of Holy Communion.
Our third resolution:
To be a people into whom, like the poured water of Baptism, Christ has been poured;
a people filled with His abiding, sustaining presence;
a people who in belonging to Him, belong to one another,
At “The Memory Bowl” hear more than all the New Year’s predictions that have us fearing:
We’ll might blow each other up with a nuclear blast; our streets might become war zones with race clashing against race, and one political party working to destroy the other; and the threat of personal crises – no money to pay the bills, a dreaded diagnosis, a personal life-changing event, too hard to handle, too unsettling to imagine!
At “The Memory Bowl” let a STAR, a SHELL, and a CUP overpower our fears as we resolve to let Jesus’ love, justice, mercy, and utter trust in God’s prevailing goodness, leave their mark on us and we, in turn, on others –
at home, at school, at work, in the community, everywhere.
Come to “The Memory Bowl” today and resolve to let the remembrance of our Baptismal-Confirmation vows “be so powerful,” the evidence of Christ’s life poured into us will “leave wet footprints from our soggy shoes”*
and be like drops of water falling on parched earth and thirsty lives,
beginning with our own. Amen.
* Quote adapted from The Rev. Dr. Patrick Keen, pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, on Day1 for Jan. 7, 2018.