Gate Pa – 10th February 2013


Hebrew Scripture:     Isaiah 6:1-13  
Psalm:             Psalm: 138                 
Epistle:            1 Corinthians 15:1-11            
Gospel:            Luke 5:1-11                

What I want to say:

explore bounded set and centred sets in relation to baptism
suggest John’s baptism and Jesus ministry is about centred sets
è wedding feast imagery – all are invited
è which we replay at Eucharistic table – one table where all gather (Paul and Galatians)
explore what that might mean for our baptisms and what we are to live out

What I want to happen:

discuss – what do they hope for TB?
-          how might they live that out?
 The Sermon

      1.      Introduction:

Today, we are going to baptise TB.
I wonder what we think we are doing when we baptise someone?
            ask – what is baptism?
joy of preaching each week
            wrestle with scripture
            enjoyed appreciated get new insights
            appreciated forced re-evaluate old assumptions
one those is what baptism is all about

      2.      Bounded sets

In some circles two images of church have been discussed
            probably heard them
based on how control livestock
one build fences
other – works in dry places is have no fences, and to dig wells
            stock don’t stray far from water
During Advent we spent a couple of weeks looking at John the Baptist.
if we were to apply those metaphors to religion in his time,
            - be the fence that fits
            to be honest fence applies most religious endeavours today as well
John lived in a society people in or out
important to know who was in and who was out
as a Temple priest one people maintained the boundaries, fences that kept people in and out
at temple, before you could enter, needed to first complete washing rituals
washing oneself clean of pollution, corruption, accumulated through contact unclean things, animals and people
            (people who were out)
This ritual washing
means of maintaining the boundaries who in and out
            washed self clean all that corrupted you
                        marked you out as someone who belonged, who was inside fence of Gods care
            excluded everyone else, labelled them as outside God’s care
John comes out of that
            doesn’t seem to be what he was about

      3.      Centred sets

suggested that John not maintaining fences
But, you might ask, wasn’t John’s baptism one of repentance?
            surely that is all about fences
How might we understand this repentance?
Sin Bible first and foremost communal –
when read prophets for example,
            todays reading from Isaiah, if read passages before and after
                        see sin when communities fail allow all live in it to both contribute and benefit
sin is economic, social, political and religious.
            individual sin becomes expression of communities sin
repentance is not for individuals moral failing
repentance is for what family and wider community has done
Isaiah – all about wealthy getting wealthier
            poorer getting poorer
            complete lack of caring about that
about oppression of the poor
term forgiveness is usually about forgiveness of debt
                        debt meant loss of land
                        loss of income
                        loss of status, place in society
                        exclusion from community
fences kept these people out
            forgiveness was about forgiveness of debt
                        forgiveness was restoration of land,
                                    restoration honour, mana,
                                    restoration of the place in the community.
in light of that, how might we understand John’s baptism?
            not maintaining fences here
            breaking the fences down
use our earlier metaphors
            suggest that more like sinking wells
            all who want to come are invited
repentance was either of being people who excluded others from God’s care
            or who believed themselves excluded God’s care and concern
inviting people came Jordan see that there is no fence around God’s care and concern
            need to rid themselves of all that stops us believing that, and living that out.

      4.      Jesus Ministry

How does this fit with what Jesus was on about?
Jesus was not about building fences
He constantly broke the rules about who was in and who was out
one of images he gave us for kingdom of God is that of feast
            in his feast – all were invited
lived this out by eating with very people who were excluded from table
            tax collectors
because all invited God’s feast
each week we re-enact that image with eucharist
this table should not have a fence around it
it is well
stand with John Baptist and invite all wish to embrace the fact they are within God’s care
we join with Jesus and invite tax collectors and sinners to join with us
This is the place where God bends down in love
            where all can bring their deepest longings and find God
this all sounds like liberal wishy washy mumbo jumbo
that is exactly image we get from Pauls writing
in Galatians
            neither Jew no Gentile, slave nor free, male or female etccc
amazing image that being acted out
imagine just how radical this was
Jew and Gentile eating at same table
male and female
slave and free
rich and poor
brings us back to Theo’s baptism

      5.      Finish

discuss – what are we doing when we baptise TB?
-          what might that require of us?