Sunday, January 13
The Baptism of the Lord
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”
With the Baptism of Jesus, the Christmas season ends. During this brief season, we celebrate three revelations:
Christmas – God comes to us in human form to experience all we experience except sin.
Epiphany – God comes to bring a message of universal salvation as described by the arrival of the Magi from the East.
Baptism of Jesus – God is seen as specially present in Jesus and working in him and through him.
So, why did Jesus, who is sinless, need to be Baptized? While the Scripture writers each describe the passage essentially the same way, it is a not story you would use to market an all-powerful and sinless god. Quite the opposite – this god is weak and would not be impressive to those hearing his word. However, this is precisely what takes place in the Baptism of Our Lord! With this event, Jesus reveals much as to how he intends to operate with us in his public life. He slips into the water with other sinners to humble himself with other sinners while remaining sinless – a profound expression of His solidarity with us. This is sharp contrast to John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, who preaches that the Lord will come upon us with his winnowing fan to separate the wheat from the chaff. But God comes down and stands with us sinners. If this is so, then our Baptism is our response that we will stand with Him.
Today is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our own baptism. It is not simply a one and done event that happened long ago, when God and the world asked nothing from us. It is a new beginning and a lifelong journey. It is our response to God, who chose us to participate and be galvanized to the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are forever bonded to the Body of Christ. Our baptism is a live and on-going organic event. It involves our active participation in the life of the Church and not just passive membership. Each one of us is called to be a living witness to the Gospel. Our baptism is an uninterrupted call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Today is a great day to re-affirm our readiness to carry on His work. For if we do not carry on His work in response to our baptism, much of His work will simply remain unfinished. What we do and how we respond to this call does indeed – make a difference.
Deacon Don Poirier