Introduction & Welcome
Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit of God moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
whose voice is upon the waters,
whose mercy is poured out upon all people,
whose goodness cascades over all creation.
Let us confess our sin, trusting in the abundant grace of God.
Silence is kept for reflection.
you search us and know us.
You are acquainted with all our ways.
We confess that our hearts are burdened by sin,
our own sins and the broken systems that bind us.
We turn inward, failing to follow your outward way of love.
We distrust those who are not like us.
We exploit the earth and its resources and fail to consider generations to come.
Forgive us, gracious God, for all we have done and left undone.
Even before the words are on our tongues, you know them;
receive them in your divine mercy.
How vast is God’s grace!
Through the power and promise of ☩ Christ Jesus,
our sins are washed away
and we are claimed as God’s own beloved.
Indeed, we are forgiven.
In the wake of God’s forgiveness,
we are called to be the beloved community
living out Christ’s justice
and the Spirit’s reconciling peace.
Prayer of the Day
Holy God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Genesis 1:1-5
Out of chaos, God brings order. Out of the formless void, God brings light. This familiar story was good news for the Israelites, who experienced much chaos in their history. It remains good news for us. God created and continues to create new life.
1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the wa-
ters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Psalm: Psalm 29
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters. (Ps. 29:3)
1Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due God’s name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
3The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders;
the LORD is upon the mighty waters.
4The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;
the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.
5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
6the LORD makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the LORD
bursts forth in lightning flashes.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the LORD all are crying, “Glory!”
10The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forevermore.
11O LORD, give strength to your people;
give them, O LORD, the blessings of peace.
Second Reading: Acts 19:1-7
In Ephesus, Paul encounters people who had received John’s baptism of repentance but had never heard of the Holy Spirit or of baptism in the name of Jesus. After Paul baptizes them, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and empowers them with gifts of the Spirit.
1While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believ-
ers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” 4Paul said, “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.” 5On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—7alto-
gether there were about twelve of them.
Alleluia. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, | the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased.” Alleluia. (Matt. 3:17)
Gospel: Mark 1:4-11
Mark’s gospel reports the story of Jesus’ baptism with some irony: the one on whom the Spirit
descends is himself the one who will baptize others with the Holy Spirit.
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the for-
giveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John
was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild
honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to
stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jor-
dan. 10And 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. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with
you I am well pleased.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, and give Glory to Your Name, Oh Lord. Amen
John the Baptist had a mission. He was sent ahead of Christ to prepare the way for Christ.
Essentially, he laid the foundations for the church by pointing the way to Christ. Paul had a mission.
He was sent to grow the fledgling Church by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. He was both
bringing people to Christ and helping to guide them on their way. Both of these men are important to
the faithful. Both of these men used baptism as an outward sign of grace to the people they were sent
to. While neither one of them traveled nearly as far as most of us do today, the impact of their
missions can be felt across the entire world. It’s important to note that neither of these men were
Christ, nor did they seek worship for themselves. They were just men who answered God’s call and
became part of something larger than either of them or any of us.
God uses ordinary men and women for his purposes all of the time. David was just a shepherd boy
when he was called into God’s service. Jesus turned fishermen into fishers of men, who went on to
help Him change the world. He used a French peasant girl to lead the French army to victory in
Orleans. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini started life as the daughter of a cherry farmer in Italy before she
came to the United States and founded many schools, hospitals and orphanages. She also organized
adult education classes for Italian immigrants. We are all called to serve God’s purpose with the gifts
that have been given us by the Holy Spirit. Last week, I wrote about us Christians being the children
of God, and as such, brothers & sisters in Christ. As such, we are a sacred people. But we are not
just sacred as individuals, we are sacred as a group. After all, if Christ commands us to love one
another as He has loved us, doesn’t that apply to ALL of us? That love that we share within our
congregation is a gift from the Holy Spirit given to us freely. As we are reminded in Leviticus, what we
are given, belongs to the Lord and is given for the good of all. So I believe that the love this
congregation shares should also be shared with those outside of our congregation.
Grace Lutheran Church in Toledo also has a calling. I believe we are here to serve the community
which we call home. But what is that community? I’ve written before about how that community
includes those who are incarcerated or are suffering from addiction and how I feel a call to serve that
part of our community. But our community is much larger than that. Part of our community that is
under served by Grace, in my opinion, is its younger members. How can we make it our mission to
serve the younger people better? Some ways that I can think of include updating our web presence.
We have a web page and even a Facebook profile, but we don’t use either of these resources fully.
Being older myself, I’m not up on how to use things like Facebook live streaming, but if someone can
live stream a band at a bar, why can’t we figure out how to use that to live stream our services? We
are used to doing things the way we always have, such as making a call tree for getting messages
out to our congregation, but the youth today don’t use phones the way we do. I get so frustrated with
my kids because I have to send them a text message to get them to respond most times. In my work,
we have also set up a text crises line for people feeling suicidal. We need to find ways to reach
younger Christians where they are and how they’ll respond.
Another group that we should be ministering to is our immediate neighborhood. What types of needs
do they have? Is it help with day care or perhaps transportation? Perhaps they need different service
times, such as a Wednesday evening service or Saturday afternoon. When I worked at the prison and
couldn’t attend services on Sunday morning, I was very grateful to have found a church that had
services at a time when I was able to attend. When this pandemic is over, perhaps we can have
some form of a neighborhood picnic in the park across the street and make sure to invite the
neighbors to discuss how we might better serve them. I wouldn’t be surprised if when we reach out to
them we start hearing things like “we never thought of asking Grace for help with that”. Being on the
other side of one of the busier streets of the city, perhaps our neighbors don’t feel that they can come
to us. That street almost makes our property seem like an island. Especially for people on foot.
All of that being said, we are told to love each other, that also includes the people that have been
here for some time and some of the older folks, like me. I enjoy the traditional service but am pleased
to have another option for those who prefer a more contemporary service. I still use the newsletter to
get my thoughts out to the congregation and I believe it’s being regularly read by lots of folks. I want
to keep doing that, but maybe we can find another way to reach out to our community and truly bless
the world by being God’s grace.
Prayers of Intercession
Guided by Christ made known to the nations, let us offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all people in need.
A brief silence.
For the church throughout the world and its leaders, for Elizabeth and Daniel, our Bishops, and Howard, our Pastor, that guided by the Holy Spirit they proclaim the forgiveness of sins, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For wilderness and water, wind and wild beasts, and all living things on earth, that God’s goodness is revealed through creation and faithful stewards care for all God has made, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For the nations of the world and their leaders, for laborers busy both day and night, and for peacemakers amid strife, that God inspire all people to use their strength wisely, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For the sick and those who provide medical care, for the imprisoned and those who show them
mercy, for the lonely and those who provide companionship, for all who suffer, especially those on
our prayer list and those whose names we hold in our hearts, that God shower compassion on them,
let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
For the congregation gathered here, for students returning to school, for those seeking renewal in
their daily work, that all the beloved of God experience grace and peace, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
In thanksgiving for the faithful departed who now rest from their labors, that their witness inspire us in
our baptismal vocations, let us pray.
Have mercy, O God.
Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the one who dwells among us, your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he
descended to the dead.* On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated
at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on
earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we
forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from
evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.
God the creator strengthen you;
Jesus the beloved fill you;
and the Holy Spirit the comforter ☩ keep you in peace.
Go in peace. Be the light of Christ.
Thanks be to God.