Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
This morning’s lesson piggy-backing on a earlier lesson of a few weeks ago when we were first introduced to John the Baptist. John was described as one who had come out of the wilderness and preached repentance and called for the people to be baptized. For Mark this is where the story begins. He describes how Jesus had come out to the Jordon River and asked to be baptized by John.
I find that quiet often when people hear this lesson, they ask the question, “why would Jesus have needed to be baptized. Baptism was a symbolic cleansing from sin and we know that Jesus had no sin. So why would he have wanted to be baptized?”
When we stop to reflect on that question, we come to understand that it was important for Jesus to self-identify with the people. He was setting an example for those who would follow. This morning is the first Sunday after the Epiphany which is the day when we celebrate the coming of the Magi following Jesus’ birth. The word “epiphany” means appearance or revealing….or even an bigger word, a manifestation. For the next several Sundays we will be looking at various people that Jesus encountered during his early ministry and how he was revealed to them.
The season of Epiphany begins with the celebration of Jesus’ baptism and ends with the account of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. As we look at these two events, we will see that they have something in common. In each instance we hear the words of God when he says, “this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Another unique thing that occurred at Jesus baptism is that we have one of three times in the Bible when we have evidence of the Trinity in a meaningful way.
At creation, we know that it was God that created the heavens and the earth. John tells us that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. And, at creation we see that it was the spirit that moved over the waters and the earth. The triune God was there as one at creation. At the end of the book of the Revelation, John describes God sitting on the throne with Jesus there as the lamb at the center of the throne and the spirit of God present in the seven lamp stands.
In between the beginning of the scripture from Genesis to the end in Revelation, we have this morning’s lesson of Jesus’ baptism when we see Jesus rising out of the water and we hear God’s voice and we see the spirit descending like a dove. We hear the words, “you are my son in whom I am well pleased.” We’ll hear those very same words on the Mount of Transfiguration on the last Sunday of season of Epiphany
The lesson for each of us this morning is that God says these very same words to you and me each day. “You are my son, you are my daughter…I am well pleased with you.” I’m not sure that I can always believe those words after having done some of the things I have done in the past and yet our forgiving God loves each of us in spite of our actions. The challenge that you and have before us is to listen to hear those words each day and then attempt to live our lives worthy of God love and grace.
Listen to the words of the creed and think about what it is that we profess to believe and then look in your own life for those times when God is speaking to you.
And as you listen, may you always remember that God is good…all the time. Amen.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.