January 12, 2020
Baptism of Jesus
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented.
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Something to Do
Remember your (or a loved one’s) baptism
Perhaps in addition to your regular mealtime grace, light a candle in remembrance of the candle you received at baptism (bonus points if you have an actual baptismal candle in the house) and offer this prayer from the baptismal service:
we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon me your servant the forgiveness of sin, and have raised me to the new life of grace. Sustain me, O God, in your Holy Spirit. Give me an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
The Spirit of God descending like a dove
In our baptism, we are joined with Christ and included in his relationship with God. Make an origami dove as a sign of the Spirit’s presence, alighting on you and revealing you to be God’s beloved child.
Instructions with diagrams or with video
Something to Wonder
Who saw what?
The different Gospel accounts describe the baptism of Jesus slightly differently. Matthew’s account strongly suggests only Jesus saw the Spirit while John’s is clear that other people saw it as well. Mark and Luke are less clear on the question.
What do you imagine happened?
What are the different implications of the different possibilities – of a private versus public revelation?
If you were Jesus, which would you have preferred?
This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased
This is a profoundly beautiful expression of love and it describes not only God’s relationship to Jesus but also God’s relationship to each of us. Sit in silence for a number of minutes (1? 5? 10?) and softly repeat to yourself “I am God’s Beloved, with whom God is well pleased”. Don’t think too much about it. Just let yourself feel it.
You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased
Who might you say this to? Do it.
Something to Learn
Mikveh – The Jewish practice of immersion
The baptism practiced by John was part of a long and broad Jewish tradition of immersion in water that continues to this day. There are certainly resonances with some of our Christian understandings of baptism but the two are also quite different.
My Jewish Learning offers this essay: What is a Mikveh? Whether you’re dunking for conversion or for any other reason, here’s what to expect at the ritual bath.
Eastern Orthodox Epiphany
Western and Eastern Christianity’s Christmas/Epiphany celebrations are offset from one another in interesting ways. For one, the Feast of the Epiphany, when we celebrated the arrival of the magi, is when Orthodox Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus and they call it the Theophany. Both celebrations focus on the physical revelation of God in the person of Jesus and are part of a season in which God making Godself known in the world is celebrated.
Theophany is marked with special ceremonies for blessing water in various forms – some of which is taken to people’s homes and used to bless those as well.
Read more here:
Theophany Icon Explained on the website, Orthodox Road.
Feast of the Theophany of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the website of the Orthodox Church in America
Theophany on Orthowiki
Something to Pray
Holy God, we do not always understand your word or your ways.
Give us wisdom and imagination and courage as we learn and grow.
The story this week has made me wonder about…
(what questions are still on your heart?)
Receive my questions and help me hear your answers.
The story this week has filled me with…
(how are you feeling?)
Accept my praise, heal my hurt, ease my worry.
The story this week has reminded me of…
(are there situations or people you are thinking of?)
Be with all who are in need of you.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.