“In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’” (Mark 1:9-11, NRSVue)
Immediately following Christmas in the Christian year, we have two significant events from the life of Jesus that occur in proximity. The first falls on January 6th, Epiphany, and observes the Wise Men’s visit to the place of Jesus’ birth. In popular culture, Epiphany is also the 12th Day of Christmas, as noted in the classic Christmas song. The second event is the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Every year, depending on how many Sundays there are between Christmas Day and Epiphany (which only occasionally falls on a Sunday), we’re left to decide which of the two days we can work into our worship schedule. This year, we’re observing the Baptism of Jesus, primarily because we’ll be using the Gospel of Mark for our readings throughout the year, and Mark’s story of Jesus begins in his adulthood. (If you get a chance, read the opening chapters of all four gospels, and notice the different emphasis each writer places in beginning Jesus’ life story.)
This Sunday, we’ll remember our baptisms and recommit our lives to following Jesus using John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer. This focus is an opportunity to stake stock of our commitment to Christ and offer an intention to be faithful throughout the coming year.
Next Wednesday, January 10th, our Wednesday evening programming for all ages resumes. Elizabeth Moore will lead a Women’s Study, “Surrendered” by Barb Roose, and Terry Stubblefield will conduct a study, “God Never Gives Up On You” by Max Lucado. We have a limited number of books available for each of these studies. As part of your commitment to following Jesus Christ in the New Year, I hope you’ll join us for one of these studies, participate in Sunday School, and volunteer to serve with one of our mission projects. I know we’re all busy and juggling multiple responsibilities, but attending to our spiritual growth is one way of helping us manage our lives better.
Finally, invite your friends (and even strangers!) to join us in worship each week. Many people are waiting for an invitation. You might be surprised at how many folks respond positively to your request. See you (and your friends) on Sunday!