Sunday 13th January – Baptism of Jesus

LUKE 3: 15-17, 21-22
Christmas, holidays, swimming pools, beach, barbecues.
Storms and floods:
creeping, swirling, silent and insidious,
roaring, raging, turbulent, torrential.

fire-storms of apocalyptic proportion,
kick-started by lightning,
driven by strong, hot winds
subdued by rain, a wind change,
hard human effort,
blood, sweat and tears
or when there’s nothing else to burn.

Water, wind and fire:
images of this time of our year;
images of baptism, the Spirit of God;
the presence of God;
images in conflict.

Water, wind and fire
shape our Australian relationship with God,
a relationship of life and death and resurrection;
of creation, recreation,
light and life out of chaos, death, destruction
and their often ambiguous margins.
Fires die, winds abate, floods recede
and somehow new life emerges.

John the baptiser
called people to repentance,
a turn-around.
As it turned out,
one was among the crowd
whose baptism
established who he was,
and whose he was.

Why was Jesus there?
A curious question indeed.
Had he set out from Nazareth
for the Passover in Jerusalem
and simply got caught up with “all the people of Jerusalem”
going out to John
and being baptised in the Jordan River?

But curious and curiouser,
why was Jesus baptised?
For the early church, embarrassment;
that one understood as Son of God
would need or seek baptism,
and a baptism of repentance
for the forgiveness of sins
at that?
Images in conflict.

In his baptism
Jesus from Nazareth identifies with humanity,
its faults and brokenness and hurts:
he took his place beside us and with us.
(Adapted from a sermon from some years ago, which may have drawn on material from other, long-forgotten, sources.)
         Jeff Shrowder, 2013.
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