- Genesis 9:8-17
- Psalm 25:1-9
- 1 Peter 3:18-22
- Mark 1:9-15
Today our readings plunge us into Lent with reminders of the waters of creation and the waters of our baptism. We enter this holy season reminded of our need for conversion and the invitation God continually gives us to turn toward God and renounce Satan. Our Baptismal Rite tells us, “There is one Body and one Spirit. There is one hope in God’s call to us” (BCP 299) and those who are about to be baptized (or their parents and sponsors) are asked, “Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?” (BCP 302).
John H. Hayes in Preaching Through the Christian Year, Year B: A Comprehensive Commentary of the Lectionary (Trinity Press International, 1993) states:
The covenant in Genesis 9:8-17 is dramatically distinctive in several ways . . . it is made between God and all future generations . . . it is made not only with human beings but also with all creatures of the earth . . . and , most dramatic of all, only one party to the agreement – God – speaks at all. The covenant with Noah . . . is an act of a free and gracious God in behalf of a world that did not have to ask for it or earn it, or even respond to it.
God’s promise to Noah and to future generations never again to flood all of the earth is established with a sign – the rainbow. This covenant is made with the whole creation. Today’s Epistle (Letter) relate the experience of Noah to the salvation of baptism. Portions of this letter are thought to have been originally composed for use in a service of baptism and Eucharist on the eve of Easter. Such a purpose would explain the association of the themes of Christ’s death, baptism and his triumphal resurrection. It is uncertain who is meant by the spirits to whom Christ preached after his death, but this activity may signify God’s intention for the salvation of all. To be baptized is to enter into the ark and be “saved” from the swirling waters of death. The swirling waters of chaos at the time of creation as well as during the tempestuous flood of Noah.
Today’s Gospel begins in the waters of the Jordan River. A dove appears (just like with Noah?) signifying God’s acknowledgment of Jesus as God’s Son. We are then quickly brought with Jesus into the desert where he faces Satan’s temptations.
Noah and his family, those whom Peter addressed in his letter, and even us today face temptations that follow our baptism and all the days thereafter. We put our trust in God and ask to be shown the right path. As we enter Lent, which started this past Ash Wednesday, we seek forgiveness for our sins and transgressions. We remember that God is gracious in teaching and guiding us to do right. The Psalmist asks God to continue the mercy and steadfast love that have remained the same from old – from the time of Noah to today and beyond. It is in God’s unchanging nature that we can put our trust.
- What signs did Jesus receive at his Baptism, particularly with regard to his relationship with God?
- What signs do we also receive at our own baptism that define our relationship with God?
- Reflect on all of today’s readings. What do all of these tell us about Baptism?
- Mark tells us that after Jesus was baptized “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (1:12). What is the effect here of Mark’s emphatic language?
- What tempts us away from our baptismal ministry?
- Reflect on the phrase “Lead us not into temptation” from the Lord’s Prayer in light of Jesus’ experience in the wilderness.
- How do you think the life and ministry of Jesus were shaped by his Baptism and his time in the wilderness?
- As the season of Lent begins, how do you hope to prepare yourself spiritually in the coming weeks for the miracle of Easter?
- Entering into the Waters of Baptism . . .Again (vicki352.wordpress.com)
- The Spirit’s baptism…a baptism that saves the believer in Christ from the Judgment of God (ptl2010.com)
- Lent 1B: Feb. 26 (lifeinliturgy.wordpress.com)