It’s Baptism of the Lord Sunday in liturgical traditions, which means that some of us are incorporating a renewal of baptismal vows, some of us celebrating an actual baptism, some of us remembering baptism in another way, and some of us doing something different altogether.

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Photo by Monica Smith, 2018. Pottery by Charley Pritchard, lulingicehousepottery.com.

Whatever your plans for Sunday, welcome to the 11th Hour Preacher Party! Lectionary helps for RCL and Narrative preachers use the same Scripture, for a rare coincidence, so be sure and check out both posts for help.


Monica Thompson Smith is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, serving as stated supply pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Luling, TX. She is a contributor to There’s a Woman in the Pulpit.


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17 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party: Baptism Edition

  1. In January I often go off lectionary and do a series. This year I asked people to submit their favorite “secular” songs. This is the first week so now I’m trying to figure out how this is actually going to work! The song is “What Ifs” by Kane Brown, and Ephesians 1:3-12…so the sermon is about “soul mates” and “destiny” and probably about how our desire for those things points us to the hope Christ gives us, which is better. Or something like that. Lots of ideas and it’s been a lot of fun to think about, but I don’t have a lot of focus yet!

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  2. today we were 3 hours away at a family gathering for my husband’s family, it was about 35 C [95 F] and very humid. We stayed in a lovely B&B only half an hour from the gathering, so a sleep in this morning, rather than an early start. Working on a sermon on Matthew’s version of the baptism of Jesus. there is a baptism at the second service, so i want to include something about Baptism as well. and really i would like to just put my feet up and sleep.

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  3. I am using the Isaiah text of God calling us by name, both individually and collectively, to be the church. Using a bit of Brian McLaren’s Spiritual Migration that we have always been a people “on the move” and since Isaiah was writing to those who had been exiled it seemed like that also mirrors the desire of many to “return” to church the way they remember or with the numbers they remember, etc. I still find hope in Phyllis Tickle’s assessment that after every rummage sale the church comes out stronger and more vital but very different.

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    1. Oh, I like those connections. And you’re in an interim, right? Particularly relevant for an in-between time for a congregation, I would think.

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      1. Monica, yes, interim. I’ve been here 6 weeks and only made pretty subtle references to moving forward and so now I will be preaching much more in that direction. Annual meeting is the end of the month and so actually ties in well too.

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  4. I’m doing the baptism in Luke and a fictional conversation by two older women, standing in line, waiting to be baptized. There’s a nice young, 30-ish man waiting in line with them.

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    1. I hope it is received well! I like to do those kinds of imaginative conversations; my congregation tolerates them every once in a while.

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  5. Sustainable baptism sermon here. Sooo glad that I have one I like, since I have no idea where I would have found time to create a new sermon this past week. Way too many classes/meetings and an issue that has sucked away time from many people, not to mention emergency dental work which has left me exhausted and in pain for 10 days . . . next week should be so much better!

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    1. Ouch! I’m pulling a mostly-sustainable sermon from the files, too. We’re starting a six week class on racism this week, and I’m leading it, so that has captured my attention and time. I hope next week is much better on all fronts!

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  6. Expecting a low Sunday because we are on the southern cusp of a winter storm, but I am focusing on 3 lessons we learn from Jesus baptism – we are baptized into community, we are responsible not only for ourselves but for the world around us and that God is not threatening us but inviting us into sanctification, with the chaff being the stuff that we need to let Jesus discard from our lives.

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  7. I’m thinking about the connections between that muddy agricultural-drainage ditch and symbolic border known as the Jordan, and the Rio Grande river at our U.S. southern border. Wondering if today’s Jesus would show up there to be baptized… and thinking about the witness of people of faith engaged with the humanitarian crisis there, for whom the service/pilgrimage has been a baptism of fire.

    Also thinking about Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass, where she talks about the difference between Indigenous names for plants & animals, and the names given them by non-Indigenous settlers who identified things according to whether they were useful/consumable. What risks do we take if we, like Jesus, die to the identities imposed on us by others, and reclaim our God-given Belovedness?

    I may focus on the first idea and save the second for another time, but they’re both tugging at me as I try to craft tomorrow’s message.

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    1. Both excellent and provocative ideas! I don’t know how I would choose. I love the idea of the Rio Grande as a figure of the Jordan (or vice versa, however that works). I’ll need to think on that some more, but I think you’re on to something. (At the very least, the non-picturesque appearance of each).

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