Sunday, January 8, 2012
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." Mark 1:4-11
The first Sunday of Epiphany
The night sky in this part of the world is often dramatic and amazing. Far away from the ambient lights of city and civilization, the moon and stars overwhelm the night. On a mild night like last night, one can stand by the ocean or in the front yard and be in awe of the beauty of the moon and the stars that sparkle and remind one of the wonder and possibilities that are just on the horizon. It can be easy in the depth of winter, with the sparkle of Christmas and New Years behind us to become forlorn and without hope. But all you need to do is to look up, and see the wonder that is before us. Somehow the beauty of the skies always restores my hope and expectations.
Our gospel lesson for today, is the story of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan. As Jesus id baptized, the heavens were torn apart and a dove descended, and they heard the voice of God declaring Jesus as beloved child. In the midst of this wilderness, penitential moment, God declares his love for Jesus and for all of us. Indeed, in this season of Epiphany, we rehearse and celebrate the love of God made real to all people. In Epiphany, we remember that strangers from afar came to worship the small child and left understanding that God was doing a new thing for the whole world, for the whole human race.
Today I ask God to help us to look us as the skies are torn apart and know that God is doing a new thing for the whole world. God's love is breaking forth, healing and renewing the world. May we all act we joy and wonder as love draws near. May we act as those who know we have been declared as beloved of God and share that joy and wonder with all we encounter today.
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.