Baptism of the Lord, Year A

Throughout the Advent season, we consider the incarnation - the idea of the Word made flesh to dwell among us. Emmanuel - God with us.

That is a wild idea, isn't it? God. With. Us. Here.

Flash forward - Jesus has aged a bit, and he's baptized by Saint John the Forerunner (remember, we talked about him during the Advent season, too!). He's all grown up and his ministry is beginning to really sizzle. How did we get from incarnation to baptism? Do they have anything to do with one another? And what does that mean to us?

God is with us in a very intimate way - we are potentially filled with the Holy Spirit and have the opportunity to be the light of Christ to those around us. We're called to do just that, to be the incarnate hands and feet of Christ in the world.

The prophet Isaiah is recounting the Lord's words. And at first, it sounds as though God is talking about one specific person he's chosen to bless and to strengthen to establish justice on the earth. But if you read on, there is a wider promise here. "I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand...to open the eyes of the blind..." As God's creation, we seem to be empowered to a greater mission far beyond satisfying the world. We seem to be empowered to free the captive and to declare the year of the Lord's favor.

The psalmist is lifting an litany of positive attributes of the Lord. But the litany ends with a petition that the Lord give strength to his people and bless them with peace.

Matthew's gospel describes Jesus' baptism and the miracle of God's voice heard proclaiming, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." These are the words that launched Jesus' ministry. For those of us baptized, does our baptism initiate a new obligation or a new embodiment? A new incarnation?

Finally, in the account from Acts, Peter is addressing the apostles who were early witnesses of the resurrection. He is reminding them of their duty - their responsibility - to testify to what they had seen, experienced and learned.

God, it seems there is something in the water.
As much as we attempt to discount the physical
and emphasize the metaphysical,
it seems there is something that is vital
about the water.
There is something important
in the flesh and blood.
There is something about
this breath
and this sweat
and these tears.
Help me to appreciate
the water
and not get lost
in the clouds.

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org
we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world;
we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words.
May Grace & Peace be with you.

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