Monday, January 11, 2016


After Christmas, the church year moves rather rapidly. We go from Jesus as a baby to Jesus being visited by Wise Men about two years later. Then, the next Sunday (this year Jan. 10) is Baptism of the Lord Sunday. It’s always a special time as we spend worship reflecting on Jesus’ baptism and ours. Luke tells the story in the lectionary this year. And, it’s only a few verses. He simply says that while the others were being baptized Jesus also was baptized. Then, Jesus hears a voice and as Jesus prays the Spirit descends like a dove. In Matthew, there’s a brief argument between John and Jesus. John says: “I need to be baptized by you; I can’t baptize you.” But, Jesus (who can argue with Jesus?) says: “Let’s do this for righteousness sake.” We are accustomed to asking: “Why did Jesus need to be baptized?” Well, if you’re thinking that John’s baptism was for sinners who needed to be washed up, you’re right; Jesus didn’t need to be baptized. But, maybe he needed to be baptized as part of fulfilling his mission of entering fully into the human experience. He didn’t have to, no. But, Jesus stepped down off the bank, down into the water, into the place of our experience. Here, in the Jordan, Jesus identifies with us, takes his place with us. As the others were being baptized, Jesus showed up and was baptized. A voice came from heaven saying: “You are my Son, my beloved. I am delighted with you.” Then, Jesus prays as the Spirit of God comes upon him. He identifies with us, then, he is identified as the Son of God. Christian faith is a revealed religion. It’s not something that we thought up in our better moments. Our faith story is given to us. Jesus is revealed as the Son of God. Jesus is the One who is sent by God to do God’s work of love. He is the One who sacrifices himself for the sake of the whole world. The voice says: “You are my beloved…I am delighted with you.” So, why do we need to be baptized? As Christians, we follow Jesus in baptism. We are brought as a child or an adult to the place where we are being identified with Jesus. He has loved us; now, we are claimed by his love. The words spoken to Jesus are spoken to us: “You are my beloved; I am delighted with you.” What if we really believed that God loves us? What if we really believed that we are loved? On this Sunday, we invited everyone to come forward to renew, re-live, reaffirm their baptismal vows. It’s all grace/gift. It is grace that God in Christ would claim us, love us, forgive us, make us his own. It is grace that we one day will believe it and live it out for ourselves. It is grace that in baptism, God gives us a whole new family, the church. It is grace that we are all given a ministry to the world. Jesus says: “Go into all the world baptizing…” The water of grace still flows and we get wet with it. We swim in it. We bathe in it. We celebrate it as the source of our life and faith. Martin Luther, great Reformer, in times of great stress and pain would say: “Baptismatus Sum” – which means “ I am baptized.” So may you, when you need it most, be able to say, “I am baptized.” Blessings! Dave Nichols

Comments on Lectionary - Sept. 1

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