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January 9 -- The Baptism of Jesus

Luke 3:21-23:

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work.”

Our church has entered the season of Epiphany. Epiphany means “making known.” We look at how Jesus made himself known to the world. The season begins by looking at his baptism.

As Jesus came out of the baptismal water, his identity was fully revealed, as the voice of God declares, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The next verse reads, “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his work.”

At his baptism, Jesus’ identity and mission was revealed to the world.

At our baptism our identity is revealed as well. The Lord looks upon us at that moment and says, “You are my child, my beloved.” Peter in his epistle tells us the blessing of this identity: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

At our baptism we come to find out FULLY who we are: we are God’s child, and God, the creator of heaven and earth is our Abba, Father, Daddy.

Pastor Gerald Hughes writes: “A friend told me this story. He was teaching a group of children the parables of Jesus. They were reading together the kingdom parables of the treasure in the field and the pearl of great price. He asked them what exactly they thought this “treasure” this “pearl” was. They responded readily, but also, as is the style of young people, noisily. One girl had not spoken. My friend asked her, ‘And, Brenda, what do you think this great treasure might be?’ In the quiet voice and with considerable shyness, she said, ‘I am the pearl of great price.’

Pastor Hughes reflected on that answer and wrote: “She declared, that she (and all of us) is the treasure; that the farmer and the merchant sold all that they had to buy, us. It was not the way I’ve ever interpreted these brief stories, but at this moment, I think Brenda’s answer seemed absolutely accurate.”

Like Jesus, at our baptism our mission is also revealed. Martin Luther wrote that at our baptism we are called to be “little Christ’s” in the world. We state this fact in our baptismal liturgy, saying, “Now, let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Just as we have characteristics of our earthly parents that the world can see in and through us, our mission as God’s children is to reflect the characteristics of our Father in heaven.

This Sunday we celebrate Jesus’ baptism, and we are reminded of both Jesus’ identity and mission. At our baptism, the same thing happens.

May we celebrate our identity, and joyfully be about our mission in the world.

~ God bless, Dan

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