The Baptism of the Lord
January 10, 2021
We celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. The Christmas season, which celebrates the revelation of God through Christ, closes with this liturgy. Jesus’ Baptism begins his public ministry.
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 29 in which the psalmist invites the pray-ers to find the power of God in the storm.
One can picture a small group huddled onshore as thunder ripples across the sea. The psalmist says not to focus on the storm itself, but:
- to see the Power Who creates it
- to find more than meteorological meaning in the experience
- to be soaked not only in rain, but in grace.
Give to the LORD, you children of God,Psalm 29: 1-2
give to the LORD glory and might;
Give to the LORD the glory due God’s name.
Bow down before the LORD’s holy splendor!
The psalmist invites the community to be sanctified by nature’s manifestation of God’s power.
As I wrote earlier this week, “This short post-Epiphany season is all about “manifestation” – how Jesus begins to show us the face of God-become-flesh.” Today’s Baptism of Jesus marks the glorious culmination of these manifestations.
I have always loved this feast. I imagine it as a moment in time when everything changes – when the Timeless Trinity steps through our human perceptions to fully reveal Itself in light, color, and sound. It is a quantum moment when, time suspended, Omnipotence speaks.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,Psalm 29: 3-4
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
In an earlier blog, I offer a reflection on these thoughts. It contains a beautiful picture which I received the artist’s permission to share. I hope you can take time to read it again.
Our lives, too, are filled with potential manifestations of God’s power, with invitations to be bathed in God’s grace. As we pray today, let us allow our psalm to lower the barriers that keep us from hearing God’s voice in our own experiences.
Poetry: God Speaks by Rainer Marie Rilke
God speaks to each of us as God makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
Music: “Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam” BWV 684 – “Christ our Lord came to the Jordan”) is a hymn by Martin Luther written in 1541. It has been set in many musical compositions, including cantatas and chorale preludes by Johann Sebastian Bach
Organist: Cecilia Yae-Jin Lee, Seoul Catholic Singers (On Youtube, there are several more prestigious organists playing this piece on magnificent organs. But I thought this young woman was extremely impressive rendering it on a rather simple instrument.)
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam
Nach seines Vaters Willen,
Von Sanct Johann’s die Taufe nahm,
Sein Werk und Amt zu ‘rfüllen.
Da wollt’ er stiften uns ein Bad,
Zu waschen uns von Sünden,
Ersäufen auch den bittern Tod
Durch sein selbst Blut und Wunden,
Es galt ein neues Leben.
Christ our Lord came to the Jordan
in accordance with his father’s will,
he received baptism from Saint John,
to fulfil his work and ministry.
By this he wanted to establish for us a bath
to wash us from our sins,
to drown also bitter death
through his own blood and wounds.
This meant a new life.