Baptism of the Lord

Genesis 1.1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19.1-7
Mark 1.4-11

Beginnings are an interesting phenomenon.

Our lives are full of them. The Roman philosopher Seneca said "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

This week we look at a couple of different beginnings. We look at The Beginning of Creation as recorded in Genesis and we look at Baptism through stories found in Mark and Acts.

Now whether you accept the first couple of chapters of Genesis as a historical and scientific account of how the earth and humanity were created or you read those stories as a mythical account used to help folks imagine where all of "this" came from, no one can dispute that these first few verses are diving head first in to the Beginning of something. This week's lectionary selection is just a snippet of the story as found in Genesis, however in a discussion about beginnings, it is the most important. The creation of / the separation of Darkness from Light is a monumental moment. As we attempt to interpret this and understand it each of us has to attempt to imagine what a "formless void" where "darkness covered the face of the deep" would be like and then what sort of a boon it would be for, suddenly in a place that only knew darkness, Light to show up. That would certainly seem like the beginning of something, wouldn't it?

The psalmist is lifting both a praise and a hopeful petition toward God – the God who created and who interceded was surely on hand, strong and mighty.

In Acts, Paul baptizes disciples who were baptized by John – a baptism of repentance. Paul baptizes them in the name of Jesus Christ, a sign of their belief in the Messiah and his teachings. Was Paul "overriding" John's baptism, or declaring it insufficient?

Then we move forward to Mark's account of John the baptizer appearing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This was a new spin on the ritual washings Jews participated in at the time. But it seems that he was offering people a new start. Most of us have heard the definition of repentance to mean a complete away from something toward something completely new--a new beginning even. And then we see this special moment when Jesus is named by God as "the Beloved Son". Wow, a blessing / affirmation like that can also create a new beginning, can't it?

Is baptism a new beginning? If so, what is beginning?

Is it an affirmation of a new beginning?

Does baptism bring light out of darkness? In what ways?

"Obviously or consciously, we are all pilgrims, searching this world over for the Lost Thing---that which the early Desert Fathers called philokalia, the 'Beautiful-Good.' In all the Celtic affairs, soul-yearning seems as much the stuff of life as breathing. In our time it is a more haphazard affair, for we are constantly grasping at the moon. The cure is a kind of open secret, a turning around, a shifting of the gaze from what is far to what is near, to the stillness of beginnings, to the simple secret place where the soul gathers its nourishment: a knowing of the roots. A knowing of the roots. This is a quality of Traditional People---those drum beaters and dancers and firelight storytellers who chose to dwell outside the walls of the empire."

Source: Michael Green December, 2008, Celtic Blessings Calendar

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