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Year C, Baptism of the Lord, 2019 – Fire and Water

January 10, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Baptism of the Lord

Hey all! Welcome back! Today’s podcast covers the lectionary passages for the baptism of Jesus, and, like his nativity and resurrection, different Gospel writers have different perspectives on the event. Alongside mentions of John and sandal thongs, Luke includes a winnowing fork and chaff burning in unquenchable fire. (Check out our ideas about fire in this episode from three years ago! CBaptx2016) Scott Hoezee at The Center for Excellence in Preaching notices that Luke’s story is brief; not as short as Mark’s, but Jesus is simply one of the many at the river being baptized. Which is also remarkable, that the One Who Was To Come got in line with the rest of us. It’s a quick two verses told in an aorist passive tense; it happened. The passive voice makes certain that we pay attention to Jesus at his baptism. The emphasis is on HIM.


Smarts of the Week – [01:59]

We take a few minutes to talk about our two smarts of the week in the episode, and here you can download our worksheets for each of them.


This Week’s Texts

Isaiah 43:1-7 – [06:49]

This week, David emphasizes PEOPLE smart for the passages, and here, he was struck by the way God assures the people that they will “pass through” the water and fire. It made him think of security checks at the airport – what kind of experiences has he had, one might wonder. David? The point is that the relationship between God and the people makes the difference as to what will happen to them in times of trial. For a special effect, call people from all four corners into your worship space!

These verses from Isaiah are chiastic; they begin and end with the main theme that the people belong to God. The next layer is the sub-theme that the people have nothing to fear because they are God’s own. The middle verses highlight why there is no need to fear; God will protect and redeem the people. This is a poetic form, and there is a rhythm to reading it that MUSIC smart people will catch. The hymn You Are Mine directly references this passage, and I highly recommend it. We also have some other hymn suggestions and resources linked below.


Psalm 29 – [15:30]

In PEOPLE smart, you might illustrate the power of God’s voice by asking your congregation to think of someone they know whose voice or presence alters the atmosphere of the room, for either bad or good, depending on the relationship and their motivation. What might God’s motivation be for having a voice like thunder? Since we modern folk don’t normally ascribe natural phenomenon directly to God, what might we substitute for “a voice like thunder”? Is that possible, even?

In MUSIC smart, illustrate the “voice of God” with various instruments; drums, cymbals, brass instruments, a blast from the organ. The sounds of nature might also work; wind rushing through trees, the sounds of conversation or laughter. What sounds like “God’s voice”? It may depend on circumstances.

  • PEOPLE smart – [19:11]
  • MUSIC smart – [16:18]

Acts 8:14-17 – [23:07]

This passage is brief and does not lend itself much to PEOPLE smart illustrations. However, we have an idea for a special effect that could be truly powerful. Consider someone you know who may not have experienced the Holy Spirit or who does not consider themselves loved by God. Pray for this person, and as an added bonus, partner up with someone else and pray for their person, too.

For MUSIC smart, ask people to think of their daily routine – the rhythm of their lives. How does being claimed by God in baptism manifest itself in those rhythms? How might people alter their tempos or change a key to make the song different? Also, Gerhard Krodel (link below) suggests this passage shows barriers coming down, which made me think of musical mashups. For a special effect, find a bell or distinct sound to use whenever the phrase Holy Spirit is used in the service.


Luke 3:15-17; 21-22 – [30:40]

Three years ago, we were particularly caught by the idea of using fire in baptism. This year, David wonders if John’s re-direction of expectations about his role can translate into our own lives. If you’ve ever had to amend someone’s expectations of you, you understand this! If not, then have some fun with the illustrations provided by Dr. McCoy. We also have a script for Reader’s Theater. Download the PEOPLE smart worksheet and scroll to the bottom.

We have some hymns and praise songs about Jesus’ baptism for MUSIC smart. The second of the two hymns written by Carolyn Winfrey-Gillette contains images from the Isaiah passage, so we’ve come full circle! For a special effect, begin a hymn or praise song that people will “think” is one thing, but then move into a different one. This surprise twist is much like John’s deflection and re-direction about the Messiah.


Image credit: Copyright : Jakub Gojda. Used by permission.

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