January 13

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January 13—Baptism of the Lord

isaiah 42:1-7

42Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

5Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

matt 3:13-17

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And 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. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is the Sunday we set aside to remember Jesus’ baptism. We also make a special effort to remember our own baptisms on this Sunday. Baptism has lots of meanings—new birth/new life, washing away the old, being claimed by God, becoming part of the Christian community, etc. But central (and sometimes missed) is the idea of vocation, calling. In our baptisms, we are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ, to be servants of God. So the Isaiah reading is helpful because it sketches out what being a servant of God looks like. We find lots of rich themes there: the servant seeks justice, but does so in a gentle/nonviolent way; God walks with the servant; etc. We need to invite people to remember their calling. (RAF)

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