Weekly worship: Sunday 13 January

Sermon notes: Baptism of the Lord

Weekly Worship: 13 January - Marina Haiyan

Focus passages

  • Isaiah 43:1-7
  • Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

We continue in the Epiphanies in the lectionary texts which this week reveal signs of a new creation, a counter creation even. 

Jesus’ baptism read in the context of Isaiah’s prophesy of presence in chaos brings together the Genesis 1 vision of creation through the work of the Spirit on water and chaos. 

This is how Paul describes the work of the Spirit on the believer in baptism and water. Paul saw in the work of Christ a new creation, in the believer, (2 Cor 5:17), in the community of the believers, (Gal 6: 15) and in the work of the Spirit in creation, (Romans 8:22f). 

Jesus' baptism announces again the mutuality of God’s new creation as Jesus receives his baptism at the hands of human John, in the waters of the Jordan and under the wings of the Divine Spirit. 

This ingathering of creation in all its forms under the Spirit of Creator is a powerful counter-vision to the vision of the dominant powers who see creation for their plunder, waters for their profit and people for their exploitation.

Arise!

Climate chaos bedevils the earth through the domineering lifestyles of the rich nations and their dominating economic systems. 

The inconvenience of this epiphany is revealed in the push back from the dominant forces of the rich in leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro, rolling back on pledges made to remedy climate change. 

The Epiphany of climate change calls us back to our identity as children of the Creator and to step forth out of the wreckage caused by being children of the Consumer to invite the lifestyle of the new creation. 

We arise from the waters of chaos baptised in the movement of God’s Spirit to seek fullness of life for all of life, and not just for the 1% of the white Western world.

Shine!

John speaks of the Holy Spirit’s fire, which we see too in in Jesus, whose life burns in us. We have been set alight by his love all these years after he first splashed his ways up to John in the Jordan. 

Jesus’s Spirit burns off the old ways to bring new creation to bear on our lives and time. Climate change sends us epiphany after epiphany that the time is now! 

As the vested interests of powerful leaders, institutions and corporations deny the truth of climate change, the hope of the climate justice movements must stay lit and not grow dim.

Lift up your eyes

Both our texts have key moments where the readers and the characters must look up. Isaiah’s fearful character is told to look for the coming of her offspring from the world over.  Overshadowed, overwhelmed, the Spirit speaks peace through and from above the waters of chaos. 

And so it is with Jesus. A voice speaks to the Beloved and a moment is granted which can sustain Jesus in the difficult downcast times ahead so that he can lift his heart to the Lord. 

This is an epiphany of the ‘beloved self’ which can empower against the insults and blasphemies people use against us for our calling, identity, gender, orientation, race, class or ability.

Proclaim the praise of the Lord

Many Eucharist services incorporate words which invite us to lift up our hearts, because it is right to give God our thanks and praise. 

Here we see the voice of praise that bursts from the Lord rejoicing in the Son giving himself now to the mission for which he was formed, and in it can hear God’s joy in all of us who give voice, body and soul to the counter-world God conceives.

Concluding prayer

Lord,

In word and world we hear you cry:

Arise!

The light of the world has come:

So let us shine

We lift up our eyes

To see your new world coming

And in doing justice

Proclaim the praise of the Lord

And so, we pray counter in and through us systems of despair and dread

With signs of love and peace.

Points for prayer

  • Pray for Christian Aid’s work with six long term partners in Iraq.
  • Pray that those who are most vulnerable – displaced people, refugees and host communities – would be strengthened to better cope with crises and live peaceful lives together.
  • Pray for support for our partner REACH, who have been responding to the Iraq and Syria refugee crises.
  • Give thanks for the psychosocial support provided through REACH for children who are refugees from Syria to Iraq.

Prayer points taken from our prayer diary 

These weekly pointers have been provided by Rev Dr Peter Cruchley, the Mission Secretary for Mission Development at the Council for World Mission.

He's also a minister of the United Reformed Church in the UK, and a member of the Christian Aid worship and theology collective.