Jesus Baptism – Epiphany 1

Title:Jesus Baptism – Epiphany 1

This video was used in the first hymn, “Help me, Lord, to praise Thee” by J. S. Bach.

This week with the baptism of Christ there were water, birth images and text drawn from Mark’s Gospel. As the sermon stated baptism are “a visible birth of new ministry in the world.”

From the readings:

Psalm 29

“The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; * the LORD is upon the mighty water
4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice; * the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor

Genesis

“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

Canticle 12 A Song of Creation

“Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas and streams, O whales and all that move in the waters. All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him for ever

“Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, and all you flocks and herds. O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.

Canticle K, A Song of Our Adoption Ephesians 1:3-10

“Blessed are you, the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ,* for you have blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

“Before the world was made, you chose us to be yours. According to your good pleasure which you set forth in Christ,* as a plan for the fullness of time, To gather together all things in Christ,* things in heaven and things on earth

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From the sermon – “As Jesus comes out of the baptismal water of the Jordan River, the heavens are torn apart. God is giving birth to God’s Son.

“God is no stranger to giving birth. At the beginning, God gives birth to creation itself, creating heaven and earth out of a formless void, the deep, the shapeless face of the waters.

“One reason we return to the banks of the Jordan River on this first Sunday after the Epiphany every year is because Jesus’ baptism makes clear his identity as God’s beloved Son.

“Mark does not start his gospel with an account of the birth of Jesus. Instead, for Mark, this baptismal scene is serves as the creation/birth story of Jesus, with John the baptizer serving in the role of a midwife.

Mark 1:4-11
“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.

From the sermon -“Jesus’ baptismal birth mirrors the way we humans are born. For Mark, this birth story of Jesus is also a birth story of our understanding of the Trinity.

“The nature of the Trinity becomes visible as the Spirit descends like a dove on Jesus and God’s voice speaks. Readers and hearers of the gospel according to Mark can see that each person of the Trinity is in relationship with the other two, in divine and creative continual love, like womb water, in which all reside together, complete and inseparable throughout eternity. Not only does the Trinity exist in love but is also continually giving birth to love.

“Our baptisms are also our birth stories. God calls us into a new creation—at our baptisms, God calls us in and welcomes into the loving womb water in which the Trinity resides, so that we too can grow up into love, complete and inseparable from God.

“Jesus Christ also welcomes us into the love of the Trinity at our baptisms. Our baptisms remind us that Jesus came to pitch his tent among us, and to live and die as one of us, to suffer with us, to overcome death and to show us the way through suffering to resurrection life.

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Image used in “Musical Meditation On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand”

From the sermon

“The cross, the symbol of suffering and death, comes to mind at baptism as the person being baptized is (in many baptismal traditions) submerged in baptismal water and then brought up and out of that baptismal water into new life, a reminder that it is through the grave and gate of death that we pass with Jesus to our joyful resurrection, as the Book of Common Prayer says.

“The life, death and resurrection of Jesus remind us that not only the joys, but the hardships and sorrows of life, and the journeys through suffering and death which we must all undergo, are sacred, and that birth and new life will follow death.

“So when we are “sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever” at baptism, the Spirit resides in us—and the Spirit can bring us home—the Spirit is continually showing us the way back to Jesus when we get off track, and the Spirit draws us back home into that Trinitarian love in which God welcomes us to live in now and through eternity.

“Today’s service opened with the opening lines of Holy Baptism.

“There is one Body and one Spirit; There is one hope in God’s call to us; One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; One God and Father of all.”

“Oneness, Unity, Love. Our new baptismal births help us to grow into an awareness that we are to live lives of Trinitarian love, growing into being One in the Spirit and One in the Lord. Living in God’s love then makes our love for each person of the Trinity a reality, and our ever deepening love for one another possible.

“Our mission is to carry this life restoring Trinitarian love out into the world through our own humanity, as Jesus did.

From the Collect
“God of grace and glory, you call us with your voice of flame to be your people, faithful and courageous. As your beloved Son embraced his mission in the waters of baptism, inspire us with the fire of your Spirit to join in his transforming work. We ask this in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.” Amen

The last hymn “We know that Christ is raised and dies no more” featured three points of light – the candle, outside light coming in through the doors and the light on the floor

It is a wonderful baptism hymn – “We share by water in his saving death. Reborn we share with him an Easter life as living members of a living Christ. Alleluia!”

“The Father’s splendor clothes the Son with life. The Spirit’s power shakes the Church of God. Baptized we live with God the Three in One. Alleluia! A new creation comes to life and grows as Christ’s new body takes on flesh and blood. The universe restored and whole will sing. Alleluia! Amen”

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From the blessing
“O hidden Life, vibrant in every atom,
O Hidden Light, shining in every creature,
O Hidden Love, embracing all in Oneness,
May each who feels himself as one with God
Know he is therefore one with every other.”


BAPTISM: POWER REDEFINED
By Karen Connor McGugan

“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.”
– Mark 1:4-11

“Happy 2021! It’s a new calendar year, and we all know what that means: it’s time for New Years’ Resolutions. Whether or not we keep them—I certainly don’t always keep them— these resolutions are bold statements about what we want the future to look like. When we embark upon a new beginning, our initial intentions and actions set the tone for what lies ahead, proclaiming to ourselves and to others: here’s who and how I want to be in the world from here on out.

“This is, I think, effectively what Jesus does in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel. Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark doesn’t tell us anything about Jesus’ birth or early years. We first encounter Jesus as he begins his public life, and he does so with a radical act that will set the tone for the rest of his ministry: “In those days,” Mark writes, “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” It isn’t that baptism itself was unusual—ritual immersion for the cleansing of impurities was commonplace among first-century Jews. It’s that Jesus, as God incarnate, didn’t need it. In offering himself to John for baptism anyway, Jesus acts out his own incarnation, submitting divinity to humanity. This is a fitting first moment in a ministry that redefines power, that places the bottom at the top and the margins at the center, that finally subverts death itself. It’s a moment that is so profound that even the material of creation responds: “Just as [Jesus] was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.” In a sort of physical mirror of Jesus’ transgressive actions, the heavens are ripped open and the boundary between the divine and human realms is breached. And it’s a moment that marks the beginning of something new not only for Jesus, but also for us.

“Our baptism recalls Jesus’ and symbolizes our own irreversible entanglement in the subversive realities of his life. When we are baptized, we—or whoever presents us for baptism—proclaim that the opening between the divine and human realms never closed. We commit to living our lives in that gap, renouncing the powers and value systems of the world. We acknowledge our place among God’s people, a community that, in its ideal form, embodies Jesus’ ministry of radical love and acceptance. We pledge to care for others as much as we care for ourselves. And we surrender control of our own life and death, daring to believe that we—“sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever”—will ultimately descend with Jesus into the waters of death and rise with him in resurrection.

“So, even if we don’t end up keeping those New Year’s resolutions, Jesus’ new beginning is and will always be ours, as well. And that is something worth celebrating.