Epiphany 1, Baptism of Jesus, Jan. 11, 2015

Title:Epiphany 1, Baptism of Jesus, Jan. 11, 2015

 Sunday, January 11, 2015   (full size gallery)


We had 36 for Eucharist this week. The sun was strong and weather warmer than it has been this week when highs were in the 20’s. Lots of sunshine which favors the inside of the church. However, we still have several families struggling with the flu.

Today was the Sunday we remember the Baptism of Jesus and thus it was a special one. We had our Epiphany service on Tuesday beginning the Epiphany season where Christ becomes known in the world through his first teachings and healings. 

The Gospel reading on Epiphany 1 is dramatic in the first Sunday after the Epiphany. Epiphany 1 represents beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which actually begins with the ministry of John the Baptist, the voice coming out of the wilderness, as God’s voice hovers over the face of the deep. God calls forth light, and therefore life; John the Baptist calls forth repentance and forgiveness, and through baptism, a new life is born. Jesus comes to John to be baptized in the River Jordan. Jesus baptizes Jesus, the heavens split apart and the spirit descents affirming Jesus as both messianic King and Spirit filled servant. Wow!

The sermon was an instructed baptism, going through the baptismal service. It starts out this way –

"This liturgy points out that we have some choices to make in our lives. Two, to be exact……

"We can choose either “Satan, spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God,” or the Love of God, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and God’s grace and love for each one of us."

"It’s as if we stand in the middle of these two choices, and we are making a decision when we come to the baptismal waters on which way to turn—toward Jesus Christ, and his grace and love."

Baptism while an individual decision is one which is supported by the community. The congregation then promises to support the person being baptized in his or her life in Christ.

Baptism also represents our job description as christians in the baptismal covenant

1. Worship and Formation –"Will you continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers? "

2. Repentance and Reconciliation –"Will you resist evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord? "

3. Evangelism. "Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of Jesus Christ? "

4. Outreach. "Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? "

5. Stewardship "Will you be a faithful steward of all that God has entrusted to you, living a life of gratitude and generosity? "

6. Advocacy. Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being"

The Baptism service continues with prayers and then the Thanksgiving over water  "Marion Hatchett, in the Commentary on the American Prayer Book, says that “the prayer recalls the waters of creation, the exodus, and the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, and portrays the font, in the classical manner, as a bath, a womb and a tomb. "  

"And then I mark the newly baptized with the sign of the cross. This marking is a reminder that through baptism, through the action of the Holy Spirit, we are marked as Christ’s own forever."

Catherine fielded questions about baptism  – Who can do it ? Who were the first baptized ? Are they recorded ?    

We also celebrated numerous birthdays – Betty, Marilyn, Chris, Cookie – were among those there.

This is the time of year where planning becomes important for the year. We distributed a list of servers for 2015. This is a week before our Congregational meeting next week. Vestry nominations are due. The bulletin is here. with all the announcements.

Ministries continue and begin. Village Harvest is distributing pasta products and sauce to 21 families this month (60+ people). Eunice did a quick count and more sauce is needed. Ken will be ramping up the Village tutoring program next week.

Catherine is beginning a young adult ministry this Friday at 5pm. It will start out in fellowship – a pasta night at St. Peter’s for late teens and those mainly in their 20’s and 30’s.

Commentary by Lance Ousley, Canon of the Diocese of Olympia 

I am most interested by the parings of the readings this week and the implications that their relationship together has on Christian stewardship. None of us is baptized without getting a job and the gift of the Holy Spirit empowers and equips us to do these jobs we call ministry.  

The Genesis reading sets us in the mind of Creation where God gives us our first call to ministry, …to be stewards of all Creation. God calls us into this divine partnership here in the first chapter of the bible!  

Luke records an important distinction for us in our reading from Acts this week. We are baptized into something specific, namely into the baptism of Jesus Christ. I hope that the current cultural issues are not lost on us here. There are many things that we could immerse ourselves in our world today, but we have been baptized into the life of Jesus Christ and all that comes with that. Our discipleship is to be of Jesus not something or someone else. We are called to be good stewards of our baptismal waters and our baptismal promises – to make a difference in Jesus Christ’s name in the world. This is at the heart of stewardship and is a huge part of the goal of stewardship in establishing and proclaiming God’s kingdom.  

The Markan record of Jesus’ Baptism cuts to the chase without any extra dialogue. Jesus goes out to the Jordon to be baptized by John and when he emerges from the baptismal waters with the Holy Spirit descending upon him God’s voice rings out, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Here Mark makes it clear that the job we are given at baptism and our subsequent work are not what makes us righteous or makes God love us. God simply loves us, and when we emerge from the amniotic fluid of baptism we are able to hear this truth in our hearts. This powerful Voice from heaven that can do all these things described in Psalm 29 speaks out to us in Love. Our work, our ministry, is a grateful response to this unconditional Love, stewarding it and allowing it to flow into the world.

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