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The Passionate Jesus

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Topic Features About Liberation

The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard

The River

Matthew 3:13-17

Baptism of the Lord - Year A

January 09, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Bill Leonard (CBF)

In the story called "the River," Southern novelist Flannery O'Connor tells of the day that Bevel, a child of alcoholic and abusive parents, is taken to a baptizing by his sitter, Mrs. Connin.

I quote: 

"Have you ever been baptized?" the preacher asked.  "What's that?" he murmured.  "If I baptize you," the preacher said, "you'll be able to go to the kingdom of Christ.  You'll be washed in the river of suffering, son.  You'll go by the deep river of life.  Do you want that?"  "Yes," the child said, and thought, "I won't have to go back to the apartment then.  I'll go on to the river." "You won't be the same again," the preacher said.  "You'll count. . . ."  And without more warning he tightened his hold and swung him upside down, and plunged his head into the water.  He held him under while he said the words of baptism.  Then he jerked him up again and looked sternly at the gasping child.  Bevel's eyes were dark and dilated.  "You count now," the preacher said.  "You didn't even count before."  The little boy was too shocked to cry.  He spit out the muddy water and rubbed his wet sleeve into his eyes and over his face.  "Don't forget his mama," Mrs. Connin called.  "She's sick."  "Lord," said the preacher, "we pray for somebody in affliction who isn't here to testify."  "Is your mother sick in the hospital?" he asked.  "Is she in pain?"  The child stared at him.  "She hasn't got up yet," he said, in a high dazed voice.  "She has a hangover."  The air was so quiet he could hear the broken pieces of the sun knocking on the water.[i]

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The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

What Do You Want with Me, Jesus?

Mark 5:1-17

Reign of Christ - Year B

November 22, 2009

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

It was quite by accident that my family discovered Bruges, a delightful village in Belgium that still retains the flavor of the 14th century.  We were lost, hungry, and somewhat confused, bouncing along in our rented Volkswagen when suddenly we passed a restaurant that looked inviting; and after a most delightful meal, the owner suggested that we take time to visit the Venice of Belgium:  Bruges. 

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Other Recent Content About Liberation

The Rev. Dr. Gary Charles Transcript

August 21, 2005

Keys

The Rev. Dr. Gary Charles (PCUSA)

The Rev. Dr. Gary Charles, pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, looks at Matthew 16:13-20.