Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:  

Lord Jesus,
You  call us to come
To be with you.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
As  Simeon and Anna see
And know you.

Amen

 

Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord

The early narratives of the infant Jesus have led us into the company of people whose lives are forever marked by his birth:

Zechariah the priest and his wife, Elizabeth, who – late in life — become the parents of a son John.

John, who will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and will prepare the way for others to know about the coming of the Messiah;

Mary – a young woman engaged to a carpenter named Joseph – who is told she will bear the Christ child through the Holy Spirit;

Joseph who leaves a quiet steady life as a carpenter in Nazareth to follow the          designs of God given to Joseph in dreams;

Simeon who is told by the Holy Spirit that he will not die until he has seen the        Messiah, and

the widow Anna – an equally aged person – who  spends most of her time in fasting and prayer in the temple in Jerusalem as she awaits the coming of the   promised One.  Anna recognizes the baby cradled in Simeon’s arms, and erupts  into praise to God as she announces this amazing birth of the Messiah to all.

Now some sages from the far East enter into the story, men who pay attention to the birthing of new stars and what their import might be. They come – following a star which leads them first to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem– to worship and to offer gifts to this new-born king of the Jews.

The same Holy Spirit who hovered over the formless void, in the darkness which coved the face of the watery deep—readying the new creation for the coming light (Genesis 1:2,3) also hovers within and behind these gospel narratives, readying each of these people—and all people–for the coming of Jesus, the light of the world.  Like a heavenly mid-wife the Spirit tends the new creation that God birthing.

God comes to some through the visitation of angels, to others in their dreams, to some through the stars—God’s night-lights in creation. God leads some through the scriptures, and God prepares some through silence; still others through conversation, blessing and affirmation of another. All are pregnant with expectation.

And so it is with John – now living in the wilderness, calling people who come from villages, towns, and cities, to turn from the ways they have been living, and to ready themselves for the coming of the promised One. We too are drawn into the wilderness – that wide, rocky space which offers little else besides silence and a stony floor. Here we are outside the structures of our every-day life. Absent are TV, cell-phone towers, stores, restaurants, and city neighborhoods. It is here in the solitude of this wilderness space that we are gradually able to hear the voice of God, to become aware of the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit who hovers over all that is dark and unfinished within and among us.

Those who believe John’s message here in this Judean wilderness, he baptizes in the River Jordan. But even as he does, he directs our attention to Jesus saying:

“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.”  Mark 1:7-8

 

Each of the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany persons experience wilderness.  Not here at the Jordan River miles from the city, but in the space around and within their experience they become stripped of the familiar. Zechariah finds himself dropped into nine months of silence as he awaits the birth of his son John. Elizabeth withdraws into retreat as she welcomes and embraces the new life within her body.

Mary finds her life, her engagement to Joseph, hopes for home and marriage, all shaken to the core. Being pregnant with the Son of God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is not the kind of startling but happy news she can share with her family and neighbors. Joseph finds he needs to relinquish measurable, stable plans and projects. Suddenly his life becomes directed by dreams and the angels who inhabit them. The magi find themselves directed a star, by ancient biblical prophecy, and then by God through a dream.

All return home by another way.

 

How does the Holy Spirit awaken your attention?

Who are you becoming as you embrace the Christ-child?

In what way is your way changing in the world – as God’s light shines on your path?

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,    
You come to us.
Carrying God’s purposes
God’s love and rescue
In your tiny form.

As Simeon held you,
So may I hold you close.
Loving God, may your
Purposes hold me,
For the sake of the world.         

Amen

Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord

  • 1/2    Monday:  Mark 1:1-8
  • 1/3    Tuesday:  Mark 1:9-11
  • 1/4   Wednesday:  Psalm 29
  • 1/5   Thursday:  Genesis 1:1-5
  • 1/6    Epiphany of the Lord: Matthew 2:1-12; Psalm 72:1 – 14; Isaiah 60:1-6
  • 1/7    Saturday: Mark 1:8
  • 1/8    Sunday:  Mark 1:9-11