Baptism of Our Lord + January 10, 2021

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, Creator of Light and Source of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immersing us in your grace, and transforming us by your Spirit, we follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A Reading from the book of Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

We pray Psalm 29

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due God’s name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is upon the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice; the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon; the LORD makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD bursts forth in lightning flashes. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare. And in the temple of the LORD all are crying, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned above the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forevermore. O LORD, give strength to your people; give them, O LORD, the blessings of peace.

A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles 19:1-7

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—altogether there were about twelve of them.

The Holy Gospel, according to St. Mark 1:4-11

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

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

Sermon

Once again, we find Jesus as the fulfillment of the Promise of God, as we reread the Gospel begun in Advent, and now walk the next steps with Jesus, as He submits to Baptism by John. In other accounts, there is quite the discussion between the two cousins, as to who should be baptizing whom! And we may wonder as well, but the baptism John offered, was quite unlike the Sacrament we are familiar with, and yet had one striking similarity. Not at all about being counted among the members of a church or a denomination, this Baptism was about the direction and purpose of a persons’ life. Repentance was certainly what John proclaimed as necessary, but it was a broad and sweeping repentance, a complete “metanoia”, a transformative reprioritization of a persons’ understanding of themselves, and their relationship with God. It was meant for an adult, who had lived a certain way, whether primarily good or evil, to see themselves clearly, perhaps for the very first time, and to make a conscious decision to declare their purpose in this new light of realization of relationship with God. In fact, this form of baptism is still practiced among aboriginal people, who even take a new name to mark their change in direction and purpose.

For Jesus, and hopefully for us, this Baptism is a Sacramental way of His acceptance of the mission He has begun to discern. When in the midst of it, the Heavens are torn open, and we glimpse the Trinity, His Divine mission is confirmed, and His destiny becomes the driving force of the rest of his life.

Perhaps, as we consider the metanoia that Jesus submits to, we can consider the effects that our own Baptism has had on us, and that as a Sacrament, is still a well from which we can draw a new and transformative experience of our own purpose and destiny. A new name may not be necessary, but a new understanding of the name God gave to Jesus, and to us, is: God calls us, “Beloved”. How we live into that name is our life adventure. I pray it will enlighten our days and nights in every season of our lives. Amen.

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