Baptism of the Lord, First Sunday after Epiphany

& archive, Year C.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You see how bent over we are
Under the weight of the world’s habits.
Unburden us
Clear the path within our soul
Lift up our heads to see you
Our hearts to love you
And welcome You.

Baptism of the Lord: First Sunday after Epiphany

Luke’s gospel leads us into the wilderness now. (Luke 3:2) Silence blankets the rocky hills, and fills the valleys. But as we stand, waiting, feeling the invitation of this silent space to be still, a voice begins to sound in the far distance. As we wait, the voice becomes louder, the words more distinct: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight . . . all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:4,6)

The voice belongs to John, son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He lives in this barren wilderness, owning the call of God on his life spoken by his father at his birth:

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High:
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.” Luke 1:76-77

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Zechariah had also spoken of the new day that was about to dawn with the coming of Jesus:

“By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79

As we follow John he leads us to the banks of the River Jordan, the river which threads its way south from the high mountain ranges north of Galilee to the Dead Sea south of Jerusalem. Other persons join us here on the river bank: men, women, Roman soldiers, people from Jerusalem, from Judea, religious leaders—Pharisees and Sadducees.
They have come to listen to John, and to be baptized in this river. And as they listen, they wonder if John might be the Messiah. (Luke 3:15)

True to his call, John directs their attention to Jesus, the Coming One

“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more
powerful than I is coming after me . . . . He will baptize you
in the Holy Spirit and fire. . . .” Luke 3:16

Now Jesus comes. Luke invites us to sit on the river bank and to notice how he comes, receiving baptism in the river Jordan from John. As we stay while Jesus prays, our gaze is drawn upwards – to heaven opening up before us, and the flight of a bird descending like a dove upon Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes in this way and rests upon him. And now another voice sounds; Abba speaks: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Enter into this baptismal narrative. Sit on the bank. Watch. Listen. Notice what draws your attention, how the Spirit of God speaks to you.

It is into this world that Jesus comes. It is into the darkness of our human reality that he allows himself to be baptized – knowing that the cup he will drink, and the baptism he will be baptized with will demand his life. And he will freely offer his life for our sake. So great and strong is God’s love for us.

Dear Lord,
Help us as we wait in the wilderness
Open our ears to your voice —
In John
In Jesus
Your voice speaking
The way of your love and presence among us
In Jesus.

Baptism of the Lord: First Sunday after Epiphany

1/7 Monday: Luke 3:14-17
1/8 Tuesday: Luke 3:21-22
1/9 Wednesday: Psalm 29
1/10 Thursday: Isaiah 43:1-7
1/11 Friday: Acts 8:14-17
1/12 Saturday: Luke 3:14-17
1/13 Sunday: Luke 3:21-11