Sunday 10 January – The Baptism of Christ
The service is now live-streamed and can be found on the church Facebook page.
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
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.
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.’
Post Communion Prayer
Lord of all time and eternity,
you opened the heavens and revealed yourself as Father
in the baptism of Jesus your beloved Son:
by the power of your Spirit
complete the heavenly work of our rebirth
through the waters of the new creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Last week we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany… the showing forth of Christ to the Gentiles, in a sense, a new beginning.
Today we see another new beginning… roll the clock forward thirty years or so and we have the Baptism of Jesus. Today’s feast marks the beginning of Jesus’s public ministry… it’s an announcement of the beginning of his ministry on earth. By submitting to the waters of baptism, Jesus linked himself with those who were coming to John and repenting.
And Baptism was a foreshadowing of Christ’s future death and resurrection. Jesus’ baptism was also an opportunity to show his authority as God confirmed that he was his Son.
So Baptism for Jesus marks the beginning of a public ministry of teaching, healing, challenging, yet it also reminds us that about 90% of Jesus’s life is not recorded is scripture. We know about his birth, his flight into Egypt with his parents and then his being found in the Temple in his later childhood. We then we jump to his public ministry, the beginning of which is marked by his Baptism.
It is, of course, a bit of a family affair as Jesus is baptised by his cousin, John the Baptist. John was a little uncomfortable that Jesus asked to be baptised by him, he thought it should be the other way round. Yet for or Jesus, this moment of baptism is the ushering in of a radical new era in which he will turn conventions and expectations on their heads: those routinely excluded will now become the included, there is to be a new understanding of God’s nature, and a fresh approach to religious tradition and to the interpretation of the law. John underlines the contrast with what has gone before: ‘I baptise you with water but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
And the Church has come to treasure this relatively simple act of baptism as we re-enact it in our baptismal services. But it doesn’t stop there because our own baptism is, similarly, our symbolic entry into that vocation to the new, radical kind of living that Jesus exemplified. Our baptism is our vocation, it is our call to expect to encounter the extraordinary within the ordinary.
It is our call to consider what our status as baptised people means in terms of how we live out not just the major events, but also the ordinary details of our lives. How seriously do we take the concept of Immanuel, God with us, in our decision-making, our politics, our setting of priorities, our approach to other worldviews, our use of money, our consumer choices, our approach to the environment, and the everyday words, actions and encounters that form the ordinary details of our lives?
It is significant that the baptism of Christ comes early in the new year, because it reminds us of the endless possibilities as we go into the future. It may even present us, as it did Jesus, with a renewed sense of vocation from the God who has the infinite capacity to draw alongside us in our very ordinariness, and who through the events of normal, everyday life, with all its joys and blessings, as well as its struggles and challenges, goes on urging us to discover what his extraordinary kingdom is like and to lead others to the glories and the treasures of that kingdom.