Thursday, January 5, 2017

Preparing for the Baptism of our Lord Sunday - Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.  14 But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"  15 Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.  16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

I want to share with you a couple of snippets of thought taken from Luke A. Powery and Willie Jennings.  First they state that, "Jesus is baptized.  His baptism occasions his anointing by the Spirit, which establishes the baptism of Jesus Christ as the source of our baptism.  His baptism draws our lives into the great journey of his life, the purpose of his work, and the power of its effects on the cosmos."  A little further they comment that, "God's servants are marked through anointing."  Finally, I would point out that they state,"Anointing is bound to the purpose of transformation (Abingdon Theological Companion to the Lectionary - Preaching Year A, pg. 43)."

At some point I want to discuss the water rituals of Judaism as I am sure there are some significant pieces of information for us to process with regards to why John was even baptizing in the first place...but that is not a question that this particular Sunday will focus on.  It might also be interesting to do a comparison of how Jesus participated in a cleansing ritual and from it was birthed our varied understandings of baptism today versus the way that he participated in the Passover meal and instituted Holy Communion.  I think that delving deeply into the roots of what many hold to be sacramental would bear worthwhile fruit.  Instead, I want to simply ask you as you prepare for Sunday worship, focus the rest of the week on this text out of the Gospel of Matthew and through the lens of the Powery and Jennings' statements above, remember your baptism!

How was your baptism the occasion for your anointing?

How do you feel the mark of a servant in your life and ministry?

How has that anointing changed you?

I would love to see responses in the comment section below how you might answer these don't have to answer them now; perhaps answering them after the sermon on Sunday would be best.  Maybe you could answer them now, and go back and review your answers on Sunday after service to see if they've changed.  Either way, blessings to you as we continue this journey together!

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