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 “Ru’ach” “Ru’ach”

The Baptism of Jesus
The Baptism of Jesus
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“Ru’ach”

Posted on Sun, Jan 11, 2015

Mark 1:4-11

January 11, 2015

 

“Baptism of our Lord” Sunday

Gospel Text: Mark 1:4-11 “Ru’ach”

 

4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And 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. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He 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. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

The Baptism of Jesus

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

 

 

(Begin with “Rock-o-my-Soul”)

 

We have been dealing with a great deal of grief recently, and most likely every single one of us is in some stage of grief, in denial, anger, bargaining, or acceptance of a loss.  No matter what, because you are human, one day you will encounter a situation that will cause you grief. Whenever a loved one passes, we move to a new home and situation, we loose or gain a new job, we switch schools and have to make new friends, the time after giving birth, a divorce or breakup, whenever there is loss, there will be grief. This is just part of being broken humans living in a broken world. There is no, “Why did this happen to ‘that person,’ they were such a good person.” Everyone, the good and the bad, will encounter loss, and each person, good or bad, will experience grief. The issue is, what will we do when we are thrown into the challenges of grief?

 

Some people say, “Time heals all wounds.” This is a myth. If that means it is okay not to do anything about your grief and just allow time to go by hoping your grief will go away, you are only delaying the day before you will feel some kind of healing, relief or life again; unless you ‘work’ through your grief, you will remain in your grief.

 

As many of you know, just like many of our congregation, I have gone through some difficult times, my mom and dad died, one son went off to college, and this last week I lost a good friend. For the longest time I really didn't know what to do with my own grief, let alone help someone else find some relief and their own healing. When Kai was sick I read dozens of books about Grief, Loss and Healing; along with many other similar books just to help me cope.

 

A few months ago I found this book called, “Life after Loss” by Bob Diets, http://www.lifeafterlossonline.com.

 

It is a great book about grief, the various aspects of grief, the myths and truths about dealing with grief. After I read it, I felt in my stomach, I WAS READY TO ATTEMPT TO START A GRIEF SUPPORT GROUP! It only took about 9 years but finally I felt I was ready.

 

We will begin our sessions on Jan. 29 at 6:30 pm in the Loft. Pastor Diets says there are four facts about grief:

 

  1. The way out of grief is THROUGH IT (this the initial Rock-O-My-Soul song).
  2. The very worst kind of grief IS YOURS.
  3. Grief is hard work.
  4. Effective grief work is not done alone.

 

I grew up in a culture where people were taught to keep their emotions to themselves. To show hurt or vulnerability was like intruding or putting demands on the other person and that wasn’t considered “proper” behavior. Therefore, there were many people who kept emotions and hurts inside. By keeping everything inside in their guts, heart and mind until they either became stoic to the point of becoming as hard and cold as a rock, closed down in fear of being hurt again, living their lives in anger or fear for the rest of their lives or worse.

 

Pastor Diets’ four points are exactly true and we need to explore them in light of today’s text.

 

The first chapters of Genesis introduce some of the most important theological points of the Bible. The Creation story, there are actually two, is not about what God can do in seven days, it is all about relationship, the relationship between the Creator and the Created. Dr. Walter Brueggermann states, “Upon this issue everything else hinges, including human authority, power and reality of order and freedom in human life.”  

 

He continues:

  1. First, the creator has a purpose and a will for creation. The creation exists only because of that will.
  2. Second, the creation, which exists only because of and for the sake of the Creator’s purpose, has freedom to respond to the Creator in various ways.

 

According to the teaching of Genesis, when the text says, “… a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”  This is speaking of the Wind, Breath, Spirit of God… or in Hebrew “Ru’ach.” It is also eluding the shear creative presence of God.

 

Furthermore, ruach is clearly a feminine noun. Ruach hovers and broods over the nest of creation, and as it germinates and begins to take shape she guides and nurtures the process. (http://timneufeld.blogs.com/occasio/2011/06/the-spiritwindbreath-of-gods-creation.html)

 

God created life from nothing with God’s Spirit, this “Ruach.”

 

When Jesus is baptized, we have to ask ourselves, “If baptism was initially a ritual action we did for spiritual cleansing, purification and the forgiveness of sins, why was it necessary for Jesus to be baptized?”

 

For the Jewish person in Jesus’ day, the ritual cleansing of the hands and feet before a time of worship or prayer, was not just for hygiene, it was also an act that demonstrating their obedience to the Law and their identity as the People of God. 

 

When a member of our church is baptized, yes their sins are forgiven, but just as important, they receive a new identity as a Child of God and my proclaiming this truth is a critical part of the sacrament! The key question will be, in our lifetime, how will we respond? As Dr. Brueggemann said, ‘we are free to respond to the Creator in various ways.’

 

When Jesus was baptized that same, “Ruach,” that same wind, spirit, breath, came upon Jesus to tell the world Jesus’ true identity. The One who can Save His people, which is what the name “Jesus” means is before your eyes. The One who can give you new life, lost from us because of our sin and self-centered ways, is living among you.

 

God tore the heavens apart to send the creating spirit, God’s Ruach, upon Jesus to let us know that we are now walking with the very Son of God, the Messiah to Israel, and the Savior of the World.  

 

When we are in grief, we are free to respond to the Creator in various ways, but the Gospel proclaims to us that we are no longer separated from God, no matter how much pain, anger, denial or loneliness we may feel.

 

Grief work is hard work, the worst grief is your own, but you need to go through it, and you can’t do it alone. Through the promise of our own baptism, we are comforted in knowing that first, Jesus promises to redeem us, walk with us and strengthen us. God’s spirit/ruach and Baptismal Promise reminds us of our true identity as Redeemed Children of God. And what is most important is that no matter how deep we may fall into the darkness of grief, the spirit that comes our way the Ruach, the Spirit of God comes to us in order to Re-Create us.

 

Grief may drain the life out of us, but God breathed the Spirit upon Jesus in order to create life through our forgiveness where before, in our hearts there was nothing, but maybe only pain and suffering.

 

Just as we must work ‘through’ our grief, we receive new life, healing and hope, ‘through’ the Cross of Christ.

Amen.

 

29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

 when you take away their breath, they die

 and return to their dust.

30 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;

 and you renew the face of the ground. (Psalm 104:29-30 NRSV)

 

When you hide your face,

 they are terrified;

when you take away their breath,

 they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,

 they are created,

 and you renew the face of the earth. (Psalm 104:29-30 NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Discussion: “Ru’ach”
Robert Joseph · 2 years, 6 months ago
I did not understand the connection between the Lessons of the day and the discussion of grief in Sunday's sermon.  The words about grief, however useful they could be for people experiencing loss, were in no way an explication of any of the Lessons.  But what troubled me more was that there was no mention, either in the sermons or prayers, about the awful events of the past week in Paris.  Journalists, policemen (one actually Arabic) and Jewish shoppers were murdered.  This evoked memories of 9/11 in this country, the London bombing a few years ago, and other similar events in major cities around the world.  Abstract Christian generalities, such as that "Jesus promises to redeem us, walk with us and strengthen us," are not of much help with these atrocities in the fronts of our minds.  Does Christianity have anything to say regarding such events, and if so, would Sunday not have been an especially critical day to talk about it? 

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