the baptism of our lord
the PRAYER. . .
O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful to their calling to be your daughters and sons, and empower us all with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
the READING. . .
And 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.
the DEVOTION. . .
Turn or burn! That’s how some churches describe it! Repent! Believe! Be baptized! Or go to hell! Everlasting punishment! Eternal damnation! It’s the outer darkness, the teeth gnashing, Matthew, so often, talks about. And it’s pretty popular in that old time religion kind of way. That, of course, is the baptizer’s message, as well. Wrath! Retribution! Fire! Smoke! Axes at the roots! Winnowing forks in hand! For John, it’s all threats and warnings, all violence and fear!
And then, there’s Jesus … One day, he comes and stands before John. “Baptize me,” Jesus says. John says, “No.” Jesus says, “Yes!” And when it’s all over, the heavens open. But instead of lightning bolts flashing down out the sky, there’s only a dove! Gentle! Unoffending! And as the bird alights on Jesus, there’s a voice. Tender! Mild! “THIS,” god says, “is he!” “THIS,” god says, “is me!”
Bob Barndt, pastor