THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
On Sunday, I shared with the congregation about John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew, and John’s baptism of Jesus. I began by reminding everyone how Matthew, from the very beginning of his Gospel (and all the way through), focused on the marginalized people whom God visited and who showed up for God. John was about as marginalized as one could get. He lived in the wilderness—a place where no one wanted to live, completely separated from civilization. John ate bugs and honey, and wore camel hair for his clothing. Yet, as marginalized as he was, God visited him…and he showed up for God.
I talked about how the news has been awfully discouraging to watch: war, terrorism, gun violence, and other horrible things are talked about on a daily basis. It sometimes seems like the problems of the world are so big, there is nothing we can do about it. However, the story of John the Baptists gives me hope. For if John can make a difference in the world while living on the margins, then I am confident you and I can as well.
I can’t tell you what God has planned for you to make a difference in the world, but the story in Matthew’s Gospel gives us some pretty good clues in terms of how to find that out for ourselves.
- First of all, God keeps showing up in the margins of society, so maybe we can spend some time there. It may be the wilderness away from other people where you will find some guidance, but it also might be among some marginalized people in your own neighborhood or right down the street. If you want to know what God is up to and what he might want from you, then spend some time in the margins.
- Second, God showed up among people who were preparing for God to show up. Do whatever the things are that help you prepare for God to show up: prayer, Scripture reading, meditation, church.
- Third, God showed up in a pretty unexpected way, so be open to surprises, knowing that God may show up or ask you to do something that is entirely different from what you have been expecting.
- Finally, God showed up in the baptism of Jesus with a complete acceptance of Jesus in his essence—just as he was. God said, “This is my child, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” Imagine that those words are for you as well. Imagine God claiming you as a son or daughter. Imagine God declaring unconditional and eternal love for you. Imagine God so pleased with who you are, that you are perfect in God’s eyes and don’t need to change a thing about yourself.
I am confident that if you do these things, then God will show up a bit more clearly, and you will have a better idea of what God might have in mind for your role in the world.
Kahu Alan Akana
Click HERE to see a video of Sunday’s sermon. A CORRECTION TO THE SERMON: Someone told me on Sunday that my statistics were off, and I realized I accidentally misquoted two statistics. I said that over 33,000 people were killed between 2001 and 2013 by acts or terrorism in the U.S. and Americans overseas. I meant to say 3,300 (which is still a big number). I also said that there were more than 140,000 people killed in the U.S during that same period of time due to non-terroristic gun-violence. I meant to say more than 400,000 (a much bigger number)! My point was that the problems in our country and world are big. I apologize for the mistake.
Videos of Kahu’s sermons will be available every week through January. You can find them here on our church website <www.koloaunionchurch.org> and on our weekly e-news. (Just let us know if you want us to email you our weekly e-news!) Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. You can also subscribe on YouTube anytime you watch a sermon; that way you can easily watch any past sermon and even receive a notification when a new sermon is posted.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.