The Story for the
Baptism of Jesus
January 10, 2021
prepared by the Rev’d Rhonda Waters
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.”
Something to Do
Baptized with Water
The celebration of Jesus’ baptism is the perfect time to reflect on our own baptisms. If you have not been baptized, reflect on whether God is calling you to take this step of faith and don’t hesitate to contact Rhonda for a conversation.
If you have been baptized and/or you live with children who have been baptized, consider doing some or all of these things, perhaps at a meal or just before bed:
- Fill a bowl with water and use it to sign your forehead with a cross to remember that you have been marked as Christ’s own forever.
- Light a candle (maybe even your baptismal candle) to remember that you have been given the light of Christ to share with the world.
- Read the promises you made at your baptism and ask God to help you keep those commitments (find a copy here).
Baptism of Repentance
The most important symbol of baptism is the water – in fact, baptism requires at least a drop of water and should, ideally, have lots of it (a whole river, even!) Water is a powerful symbol of renewal . It restores us when we are thirsty. It cleanses us when we are dirty.
This week, add a prayer to every encounter you have with water. When you drink it, ask God to give you newness of life. When you wash with it, ask God to wash away anything that separates you from God. When you use it to nourish pets or plants, ask God to make you a channel for God’s love.
Something to Wonder
Baptized with the Holy Spirit
The word baptize is the Greek word for dip or dunk – like a cookie into milk or a toe into a swimming pool or a tired body into a warm bath. John the baptizer was literally dunking people into the river, baptizing them with water, and he pointed to Jesus who would baptize with the Holy Spirit – dunking people into the Holy Spirit.
How do you feel / what do you think about the idea of being submerged in the Spirit? Is it similar or different from how you usually think of encounters with Spirit? Does is describe something you have experienced before? Something you would like to experience? Something you would rather avoid? Why?
You Are Beloved
You are beloved. Is this an easy thing or a hard thing for you to hear? To believe? Either way, it is true. You are beloved.
Something to Learn
The Gospel according to Mark
The liturgical year begins in Advent and this liturgical year is a “Year B”, meaning with will be reading the Gospel according to Mark. Because of our special Advent series, however, we did not begin our year with Mark and so instead come to it for the first time in three years this Sunday.
Mark’s account is the first to be written down and is the shortest of the four Gospels. It moves with great urgency and an astonishing economy of language – which results in a frustrating lack of detail as well as a very compelling story.
The two short essays provide an excellent overview of the context, composition, and history of Mark’s account.
The Gospel of Mark: A story of secrecy and misunderstanding
The Gospel of Mark: The first attempt to tell the story
The Bible Project video provides a clear and engaging explanation of the structure and themes in the Gospel according to Mark.
And, if you have a couple of hours, I highly recommend letting actor David Suchet read the whole book out loud to you.
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.