• Rev. Joel L. Tolbert

Waters of Baptism - Noah

Vacation Bible Worship, week 1 of 1

Two-week series for the children on Baptism and Communion

Preached June 21, 2020 for the 9:30am Virtual Worship


Context

For these two weeks of Summer, we are doing worship together in a special way. Because of the Corona virus, we didn’t get to give the children of this church and community our full featured fun Vacation Bible School. Rats!


So, for two Sundays, we are bending Sunday worship toward the younger ones in and around this church. If you are younger, we hope you see us giving YOU our full attention, speaking right to you where you are. If you are older, I hope you will also enjoy these fun worship services, and find special meaning in them for you. If there are parts or songs that don’t hit your sweet spot, I hope you will play along with us, as if you were at a party designed for your grandchildren. After all, Jesus said, Let the little ones come to me. Unless we see the kingdom through their eyes, we will not see it at all.


So, how will worship be different? Well, we will be following a similar order of worship, but with shorter parts and easier words. We have some similar songs but we might play them in a new way. We’ll have some new songs but we might play them in a way that feels more like us on a Sunday morning. Your pastors and staff will help lead worship, we just wont be in robes and stoles but tshirts and fun shoes.


We’ll have sacraments. This week the whole service is shaped around baptism, and we will celebrate the baptism of Katie McIntire. Next week we will shape the service around the Lord’s Supper, and celebrate Communion together. Our friends in Malawi and the Congo will help us see and learn what baptism and communion are like over there.


So, lets worship God together with sayings, stories, symbols, and songs. Let’s be one wide community loving and serving God together. If you are younger or older, enjoy! If you know the song or don’t, sing along with joy. Let us worship God!


Prayer


Scripture/Sermon Genesis 6-9

Have you ever heard about Noah or an Ark or a Flood? The first book of the Bible is called Genesis, and there’s a story early in that book, from the sixth to the ninth chapter, about God and Noah and a big boat called an Ark and a big Flood.


It goes something like this… God had already made everything, all the lands and waters, all the living things, the plants and animals, and all the people. God had put God’s whole heart and mind and spirit into creating a wonderful amazing world. Then something happened. Its says in Genesis 6 that the men became greedy. They were mean to women. They fought. They were corrupt, which means they cheated and lied and stole things. God was so disappointed. It was changing everything about God’s good creation. The animals and plants were changing. The water and land was changing, all because of the corrupt violent greedy men.


So, the story goes, God said something like, “I need a do over. The evil of these men is spreading to all the men, like a virus, and corruption, hatred, and violence is normal in every corner of the earth.” God decided it was too broken to fix. Little changes wouldn’t make a big enough difference fast enough. So, God decided to wash it all away and start over.

Then God saw one man who was honest, who loved his family and was kind, who was careful with the land and good to animals, a farmer whose name was Noah. God told Noah to build a really big boat, an Ark we call it. The boat would need to be big enough to hold all of Noah’s family, the boys and the girls, the men and the women, and two of every kind of animal. When Noah was finished and the boat was full, God was going to send rain. Lots of rain, until all the bad of the world was covered over and washed away.


See, the story says, God was mad and sad. God had made all of it good, but men had messed it up. The soil that was good got corrupted by bad men. The animals that were good had gotten mean because of bad men. And the people God created and called very good, all of them had let themselves be corrupted by greedy, violent, hateful men. So the story imagines God was so angry, so disappointed and frustrated at how those bad men had ruined all God’s good creation that God decided to wash all of it away, except Noah’s family and two of every animal.


When the flood was over, Noah’s family and the animals they had with them started creation all over again. The first thing they did was worship God. They came together on the dry ground and sang songs, and shared a meal, and gave thanks to God for a clean slate, a fresh start. Noah’s family took care of the ground and planted things again. They took care of the animals and helped them grow and be safe. They took care of each other, and worshipped God together.


Now, you might think God would be happy. All the bad was gone. But you know what happened when God saw this, when God paused and thought about what God had done? God cried and said “I will never do this again. I will never again punish all people, all of creation. Human beings will always have a possibility for evil, but I will not punish all of them for the evil they do or allow others to do.” God was sorry, and promised never to do it again. God drew the rainbow in the sky as a symbol of God’s promise, to remind God and us, God will never again punish all human beings and creation for our odd way of doing or allowing the bad instead of the good.


The church remembers this story and this promise when we baptize someone. We are saying in Baptism, any of the bad is being washed away. We are also reminding ourselves and God, that this person being baptize is under God’s promise, and should not ever be punished by God for the evil they might do or let others do, but should be loved and remembered and kept by God forever.


I hope you’ll read this story tonight, Genesis 6 though 9, and if you want, send me any of your thoughts or questions to Joel@PresbyterianChestertown.org Now, to God be all the glory and honor forever… amen.

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In 2002, I left my corporate career, and went to seminary. Since 2005, I've been serving churches, and trying to follow Jesus, and lead others in doing the same...

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