Pondering for Sunday, January 9, 2022

Eucharistic Readings for the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany: Year C

Isaiah 43:1 to 7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14 to 17; Luke 3:15 to 17 and 21 to 22

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3: 21 and 22)

There is so much to get to in today’s Gospel reading before we open verses 21 and 22 above.

There is the wonderment of what the people thought of John the Baptist, that he might be the Messiah. This is a two part concern.  First, the people were expecting the Messiah to come as had been told to them from the Holy Writings.   Second, if the Messiah is coming, then who is he? Could it be this rebel baptizer?

Then there is John’s confession that he is not the Messiah. John’s whole life purpose is to announce that the Messiah is indeed coming. This proclamation of John is now handed down to you and me. Christ is coming!

Within this reading of Luke there is the almost incidental baptism of our Lord Jesus, unlike Mathew where there is concern from John about his worthiness to baptize Jesus: (Matthew 3: 13 to 15).

Then finally we get to the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove. A voice proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God and that God is pleased with him. This proclamation happens again in the Bible and is remembered in our Church on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany and at the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus on August 6th. Most of what we do in our Church is biblically based. However since biblical writings are in the language of the people, interpretation of what is being said can be determined at the family level. And I believe this is fine as long as families remember to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they read the ancient words.

 Today is a prescribed day for Baptisms according to our Book of Common Prayer because today we remember that our Lord set the example for Christians to be Baptized as part of our Church tradition and as the only initiation into Christianity. Let us make no mistake, there is the Bible, there is Church Tradition in all its variations, and there is family prayer. I believe the latter is the most important, even in the absence of the first two. Remember what Jesus was doing when the Holy Spirit descended upon him: “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him.”

As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John

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