First Sunday after the Epiphany: the Baptism of Jesus

Genesis 1.1-5:  An odd reading from the Creation story, not in its content, but in its brevity.  However, as this is the season of Epiphany, a season captured in the image of a light leading “wise” characters to the birth site of the “new” king, perhaps a short version of the Creation story focused solely on the distinction of light and darkness, day and night is all that is needed.

Psalm 29

Acts 19.1-7: Paul, in this brief reading, is drawing a distinction between the Johannine baptism of “repentence” {repent (metanoia—a turning of the heart from the wrong direction to the right direction) is essential to exploring how it is we move our journeys from brokenness to connectedness with God.  While Paul in Romans affirms salvation is by grace through faith in God (see letter “c” below), repenting or metanoia-turning is a process of us reorienting ourselves to God’s purpose for our lives.  Repenting allows us to realize and experience the unrelenting grace and love of God as we choose to seek God.}  and baptism in the name of Jesus, that is, a baptism into the transformative power of the Holy Spirit manifested by God through Jesus.  Paul is moving baptism from a personal action of metanoia to an ontologically transformative change in our nature by God.  Baptism becomes not only a mark of repentence, but also our new birth by faith in Jesus.

Mark 1.4-11: This is the story of Jesus’ baptism by John.  It is an affirmation of the distinction Paul is making in today’s reading from Acts.  The Gospel of Mark, the Readers’ Digest version of the Gospel, contains only the essential elements of the story of John the Baptist and ends with the declaration by a voice from the heavens acknowledging the person just baptized by John, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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