The Baptism of Jesus – some help for Sunday

Here I am working on the lectionary texts for this Sunday, which is built around the Baptism of Jesus in Luke 3 (Psalm 29, Isaiah 43 and Acts 8 also feature – you can check them out in detail here.)

I’m still in the early stages of my preparation, but at the moment, I’m drawn by the presence of all three persons of the Trinity in the final couple of verses in the reading from Luke 3. Jesus goes down into the water, the Spirit descends, and the Father declares his love for and delight in the Son.

Jesus being baptised is an incredibly rich moment. In doing so he participates in an act of confession and repentance alongside his people, a symbolic turning from life on his terms and embracing obedience to his Father (a ‘turning from’ he keeps working at all the way til the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘Not my will but yours.’) But the imagery of water is also deeply significant. As a nation, Israel didn’t like water all that much. In their story of creation it represented all that was uncreated and unruly. The waters of the earth form the boundaries within which life will be lived. Add into that, the story of the Flood (which is mentioned in Ps 29 and points to the world being unmade and then remade) we begin to see the importance of the water imagery.

So Jesus goes down into the water. He faces the things that frighten us. He steps into that which is normally the boundary line of life as we know it. Of course baptism has come to signify sharing in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is about meeting death face on, getting it over with – and then living a new life in and with Christ. As Jesus goes down into the water, he seems to lay claim to it, increasing the habitable zone where life can happen. I’m reminded of Psalm 139, ‘If I go down to the depths, you are there…’

So the invitation is to follow Jesus into the things that frighten us, and ultimately into a larger life, one where Jesus’ lordship has tamed those things that claimed lordship over us before (our fears, limitations etc).

In that place, the Spirit descends. The Spirit reaches us in places we previously thought were unreachable.

Finally, the Father declares his love for us, and tells us he delights in us. In this place which earlier held only death and all that daunted us – we find the companionship of God and the overwhelming love of God. This is a work of all of God, here we see the Trinity conspiring to commune with us.

These are just my initial thoughts. But throughout the message I intend to use a couple of songs. I thought I’d share them here in case you found them helpful in your preparation or for use in your services. If you need a copy let me know.

Down to the water is a song I wrote for a couple’s baptism at St Paul’s in Katikati a few years back. It picks up on themes of surrender, facing death and finding life, our limitation and the boundless grace of God in Jesus. Sung beautifully by Hannah Van Dorp (with some help from Jordan Redding, Sam Bennett, Matt Potts and Sophie Macaulay).

This next song is ‘Into the deep’, the title track of the new (as yet unreleased) album. It picks up on the water imagery; that uncontrollable, murky place we all stay out of, but Jesus calls us into.

Finally, I intend to use this song, ‘Sweetest Mystery’ which is also off the upcoming album. This is just a rough/early demo – but it highlights that idea of the Trinity working together to reach us, love us and save us. I used it last Sunday and had people singing along by the end of it.

If any of this is helpful, then use it. Blessings on your preparation as we help God’s people hear him speak.

Rich Text Area Toolbar Bold (Ctrl + B) Italic (Ctrl + I) Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D) Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U) Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O) Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q) Align Left (Alt + Shift + L) Align Center (Alt + Shift + C) Align Right (Alt + Shift + R) Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A) Unlink (Alt + Shift + S) Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T) Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N) ▼ Toggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G) Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z) Format – Paragraph Paragraph ▼ Underline Align Full (Alt + Shift + J) Select text color ▼ Paste as Plain Text Paste from Word Remove formatting Insert custom character Outdent Indent Undo (Ctrl + Z) Redo (Ctrl + Y) Help (Alt + Shift + H) Here I am working on the lectionary texts for this Sunday, which is built around the Baptism of Jesus in Luke 3 (Psalm 29, Isaiah 43 and Acts 8 also feature – you can check them out in detail here .) I’m still in the early stages of my preparation, but at the moment, I’m drawn by the presence of all three persons of the Trinity in the final couple of verses in the reading from Luke 3. Jesus goes down into the water, the Spirit descends, and the Father declares his love for and delight in the Son. Jesus being baptised is an incredibly rich moment. In doing so he participates in an act of confession and repentance alongside his people, a symbolic turning from life on his terms and embracing obedience to his Father (a ‘turning from’ he keeps working at all the way til the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘Not my will but yours.’) But the imagery of water is also deeply significant. As a nation, Israel didn’t like water all that much. In their story of creation it represented all that was uncreated and unruly. The waters of the earth form the boundaries within which life will be lived. Add into that, the story of the Flood (which is mentioned in Ps 29 and points to the world being unmade and then remade) we begin to see the importance of the water imagery. So Jesus goes down into the water. He faces the things that frighten us. He steps into that which is normally the boundary line of life as we know it. Of course baptism has come to signify sharing in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is about meeting death face on, getting it over with – and then living a new life in and with Christ. As Jesus goes down into the water, he seems to lay claim to it, increasing the habitable zone where life can happen. I’m reminded of Psalm 139, ‘If I go down to the depths, you are there…’ So the invitation is to follow Jesus into the things that frighten us, and ultimately into a larger life, one where Jesus’ lordship has tamed those things that claimed lordship over us before (our fears, limitations etc). In that place, the Spirit descends. The Spirit reaches us in places we previously thought were unreachable. Finally, the Father declares his love for us, and tells us he delights in us. In this place which earlier held only death and all that daunted us – we find the companionship of God and the overwhelming love of God. This is a work of all of God, here we see the Trinity conspiring to commune with us. These are just my initial thoughts. But throughout the message I intend to use a couple of songs. I thought I’d share them here in case you found them helpful in your preparation or for use in your services. If you need a copy let me know. Down to the water is a song I wrote for a couple’s baptism at St Paul’s in Katikati a few years back. It picks up on themes of surrender, facing death and finding life, our limitation and the boundless grace of God in Jesus. Sung beautifully by Hannah Van Dorp (with some help from Jordan Redding, Sam Bennett, Matt Potts and Sophie Macaulay). This next song is ‘Into the deep’, the title track of the new (as yet unreleased) album. It picks up on the water imagery; that uncontrollable, murky place we all stay out of, but Jesus calls us into. Finally, I intend to use this song, ‘Sweetest Mystery’ which is also off the upcoming album. This is just a rough/early demo – but it highlights that idea of the Trinity working together to reach us, love us and save us. I used it last Sunday and had people singing along by the end of it. If any of this is helpful, then use it. Blessings on your preparation as we help God’s people hear him speak. Path : p  » a  » img.alignnone size-medium wp-image-406

AUTHOR: Malcolm Gordon
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