Saturday, January 12, 2013

Welcome to the Water

Art courtesy of
Our scripture texts for this week are Luke 3:10-22 and Isaiah 43:1-7, which can be read here.

Unable to decide what to blog on this week (hence why you are not seeing this until Saturday!), here are three slightly connected streams of thoughts about this first Sunday in the season of Epiphany and its lectionary texts:

1) Did you know that, in the early church, both Jesus' birth and his baptism were celebrated on Epiphany Day (January 6)?  Though these events have remained largely connected in the Eastern church, since the 4th century the Western church has been dividing them into three separate celebrations:  Jesus' birth on December 25, the visit of the Magi on January 6, and Jesus' baptism on the first Sunday following Epiphany Day.  I wonder, though:  what might we gain if we celebrated Jesus' birth and Jesus' baptism on the same day?

2)  Here is the question (well, series of closely tied questions actually) that has been bugging me all week, and after hours (and I mean hours) of reading I still have no definitive answers, so I am open for ideas:  as far as we know, though Jesus was baptized, he never baptized anyone during his lifetime--at least as far as we know (though he did reference baptism at least through symbolic language in John 3, and command baptism post-resurrection in Matthew 28).  So, how did baptism become so quickly central in the life and practice of the early church?  Were the disciples ever baptized?  Why, aside from Jesus' encounter with John in the Jordan, do the four gospels speak almost nothing about the practice of baptism, even though it has been central to worship and discipleship from the church's very inception?

3)  We are going to be talking a lot about hospitality during this Epiphany season as we host our Winter Relief guests.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what baptism--and especially the story of Jesus' baptism--can teach us about hospitality, about the ways God welcomes us and we welcome one another.  How are baptism and hospitality connected?  For some musical fodder for your thinking, check out this great song by Peter Mayer, which I think is one of the best songs I have heard about baptism anyway (there is also a dearth of good baptism songs in our hymnal--somebody write some, please!):  Stirrin Up the Water.

So, there are three things for you to mull over--or even pick just one if you'd like!  See you tomorrow as we consider the welcome God has shown to us and called us to extend to others through the gift of water.

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