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Weekly Bible Readings and Reflections

The Baptism of our Lord – Sunday 12th January 2020

Isaiah 42:1-9: A prophecy of God’s coming servant, who fulfils God’s promise, and who will bring justice and comfort.

Psalm 29: An exhortation for the heavenly beings to give glory to God, for God’s mighty, majestic voice.

Acts 10:34-43: Peter preaches about the Jesus who was baptised by John and empowered by God’s Spirit, who taught about God’s reign and did good, and who is now the judge of all and the one who brings forgiveness.

Matthew 3:13-17: Jesus appears at the Jordan and John hesitates to baptise him, but ultimately submits to Christ and baptises him. Then the heavens open, the Spirit descends on Jesus as a dove, and God’s voice proclaims God’s pleasure in Jesus.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:

What struck me in the readings for Christ’s Baptism this week was the quietness of it all. There is no fanfare, no glitz and no loud, forceful declarations. God’s affirmation of Christ, and the ministry of Jesus, are all rather quiet and subdued. This does not mean that proclamation does not happen, but that the proclamation of the Gospel happens less through loud, dramatic displays and more through gentle, quiet, ordinary encounters.

The twin themes of proclamation and justice run through the readings this week. Isaiah prophecies the servant who fulfils God’s previously proclaimed promise and who brings justice by proclamation without raising his voice, in word and action. The voice of God, which causes strong responses in creation, is praised in Psalm 29. In Acts, Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel is the focus, and he points people to Jesus’ own message, proclaimed and demonstrated in words and acts of compassion and justice.

In the encounter with John, Jesus proclaims that what they do is in fulfilment of righteousness (what God requires) and then God proclaims Christ to be God’s well-beloved son, in whom God delights.

The beautiful challenge of these readings is that justice, God’s reign, God’s presence and God’s salvation in Christ, must be proclaimed, and be seen to be proclaimed, for them to have impact and influence in our world. However, as Isaiah indicates, and Peter preaches, the proclamation is quiet, without a raised voice, and is shown to God’s “hand-picked” witnesses who must then carry the message further.

The Baptism of Christ, then, is for us a listening to God’s proclamation of who Christ is, and what Christ has come to do. We are the witnesses to Christ. And then, it is also a call for us to be proclaimers, messengers, carrying what we have seen and experienced into the world in quiet, but significant, words and deeds.

Blessings as we listen, proclaim and take the Good News of Jesus into the World! Amen.