Sermon: Water and Wilderness

Mark 1:9-16

Water and Wilderness

Today’s Gospel story is so disjointed isn’t it? First we have a lovely family christening scene,- we remember when people in our church community have been baptised, with the babies in long beautiful gowns, and cake to follow.

But Jesus’ baptism is different – it’s in vivid technicolor, with doves, and voices from heaven, like a movie where the special effects budget was just too much. That’s because the supernatural aspect of baptism was very visible – and audible when Jesus was baptised.

It’s always there when we have baptisms too – little Beth was the most recently baptised here, and the Holy Spirit was no less present for that occasion that it was for Jesus’ baptism. But when Jesus was dipped under the Jordan, and the heavens opened, and the Spirit descended on him like a dove, it was verrry public. All those around him saw it, heard it. Continue reading

Stinky sandals?


” I baptise you with water so that you’ll give up your sins. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I’m not good enough even to carry his sandals.” Matthew 3:11 (CEV)

When I heard this verse recently, I started to think about what John the Baptist really meant in his comment that he wasn’t even good enough to carry Jesus’ sandals. So often we gloss over these familiar words and think of the image as a spiritual metaphor, but remember, Jesus was fully human. I don’t know about you, but there are several young men in my house, and going near their discarded footwear, let alone touching it, is not for  the faint-hearted. (But maybe for the hard-of-smelling.)

Let’s see the image in its vivid earthiness and humanity, the way that John’s hearers would have head it. We’re talking about the sandals that Jesus would wear all day, every day, in the hot and dusty, in the damp and muddy, no matter what he stepped in. Jesus is fully human – yes – so his sandals would have been really revolting to carry.

When we are struggling with our own broken humanity, and even more so with other people’s, with their stinky feet, with the distasteful aspects of other people, let’s remember Jesus had smelly feet too. John was underlining this point in his prophecy. Jesus had to be fully human so he could minister to us. May we in our human-ness minister to others, and look for Jesus in everyone we meet this Advent.

Sermon for Advent

Sermon  Dec 9 2012

Rev Felicity O’Brien

Advent. It’s such a complex time of year. There are all the preparations for end-of-year do’s – bring a plate everywhere you go. There are requests for donations to Childrens’ charities  – bring a wrapped present with the age of the recipient. There are food bank appeals – bring a tin of something. There are invitations to drinks – bring a bottle.

It gets very busy as with end of year functions as well as preparing for Christmas festivities. One phase of life is ending as the school year finishes, but there is no time to acknowledge and give thanks for all that has gone, and to pray for the next journey, because there is no stillness to reflect amid all the busyness. Or so it can seem. Continue reading