- Isaiah 42:1-9
- Psalm 29
- Acts 10:34-43
- Matthew 3:13-17
The words of calling and anointing for ministry heard in connection with Jesus’ baptism are the words that frame the church’s understanding of the ministry of all the baptized today: “You are my . . . Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The radical nature of our calling is to bring justice and to serve the cause of right, to be part of God’s own mission of liberating the suffering, the oppressed, the hungry.
This Sunday is one of the five most appropriate times for baptism in the church (see BCP 312). Epiphany is a time for rededicating ourselves to our own ministries an our missionary task – to continue the spread of Jesus’ light in the world. With today’s readings, we remember Christ’s baptism and our own. Just as the disciples were called (a theme which is built upon in next Sunday’s readings), we received our calling or vocation as Christians through baptism. The theme of discipleship is the initial focus in the readings for the Sundays after the Epiphany.
The collect for this day asks, “Grant that all who are baptized into his name may keep the covenant they have made” (BCP 214). The Baptismal Covenant calls Christians to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being (BCP 305). If your congregation will not be celebrating baptisms today, consider making a Reaffirmation of The Baptismal Covenant (BCP 304) part of your liturgy.
God of freedom, your beloved meets us where we are, immersed in the flow of life: by his humility and solidarity raise us from fear and guilt; may the arc of the Spirit’s flight make us a people of pace; through Jesus Christ, the Son of Righteousness. Amen. (by Steven Shakespeare, Prayers for an Inclusive Church 2009: Church Publishing)
- In the service of Holy Baptism the baptized person is marked with the sign of the cross, “marked as Christ’s own forever.” What does it mean to you that you are “Christ’s own”?
- The Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove. Baptismal fonts and surrounding church architecture throughout the ages have been adorned with this dove, a symbol of the Spirit’s new life in us as we are claimed as a child of God. Visit the Bridgeman Art Library for images to explore and reflect upon.