Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Prayer and Scriptures for the First Sunday after the Epiphany: the Baptism of Our Lord (2015)

The Baptism of Christ
Prayer for the Week:
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
First reading: Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm: Psalm 29
Second reading: Acts 19:1-7
Gospel: Mark 1:4-11
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."
Lectionary Reflections for the Season of Epiphany:

The Baptism of the Liberating King
Ekklesia Project: Assumed and Healed.

Die Evangelischen Theologen: The Magi and Theological Method - A Sermon for Epiphany-eve.


Many commentators, spoiled by dogmatic theology and centuries of debates over baptism, sometimes miss the essential Jewish and narrative nature of this story. John, in OT prophet’s garb, calls Israel back to the river where they first crossed into the Promised Land in the days after Moses had led them out of Egypt and through the desert. John is calling them to enter that land once again by passing through the waters as their ancestors did. The first Israelites followed the ark of the covenant through those waters, leaving behind years and years of slavery, wilderness wanderings, sin and rebellion, death and destruction. They entered a new life in a new land as God’s new creation. Led by Joshua, they took possession of God’s promises that day. The dust of death was washed away by the water of life. 
Now in Jesus a new Joshua arrives! He steps into the river Jordan to “fulfill all righteousness”— to signify that God’s promise of making things finally and fully right is coming to pass. Taking his place with the repentant who are trusting God to end their exile, he leads them through the waters of baptism into newness of life. 
All the Gospels affirm that this is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ (see Mark 1:1). But it is not an absolute beginning. It is the beginning of the climax of the story that has been told since the first “beginning” (Genesis 1:1). It is the beginning of the long-awaited time of fulfillment. And Jesus knew it! He tells John here that the day has come. That must have been a profound moment for Jesus. Imagine it. Standing there in the water, on the threshold of a new creation!

Working Preacher: Commentary on Mark 1:4-11 - here and here.

The Scriptorium Daily: The Baptism of Christ: Worth Pondering.
The baptism of Christ is one of the major mysteries of the life of Christ, and a fruitful source for theological reflection. It draws attention to the interaction between Christ and the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation, and spurs investigation into the eternal trinitarian ground and implications of their relationship within salvation history. 
Reflecting on Christ in his baptism opens a spacious region between the moments of the incarnation and the crucifixion, in which thoughts about Jesus can be seen in a new light. Without taking away from the incarnation or the crucifixion, concentrating on the event of Christ’s baptism highlights the historical activity of the fellowship between Persons –the Persons of the Trinity– which makes Christ who he is. What we get to see when we ponder the baptism in the Jordan, what the first witnesses of it saw with their own eyes, is the Spirit descending on Christ.


*'Prayers for the Week' are collects from the Book of Common Prayer that can also be followed here and here.

*Weekly readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary.

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