Epiphany One: The Baptism of Christ

Readings: Genesis 1.1-5; Psalm 29; Acts 19.1-7; Mark 1.4-11 (view all)

I’ve always had a really healthy relationship with my parents, but growing up there have been phases when things have been more strained and there has been tension.

I remember particularly a phase during my teenage years where I felt under a lot of pressure – pressure to achieve at school, pressure to make a success of things. There was a particular moment at a Christian summer camp we were at together, when my Father said to me, ‘James, I just feel that God wants me to tell you how much I love you, and how proud of you I am’, and he gave me a big hug. We both burst into tears – it was exactly the reminder I needed at that time that, no matter what, I was loved and valued.

At Jesus’ baptism, recounted by Mark in our gospel reading, the relationship between the Father, the Son (and the Spirit) is highlighted. I wonder, what can we learn from it all about our own relationship with God?

After being introduced to ‘John the Baptizer’ during Advent, we now get to meet the one who was coming after him – Jesus. And what a dramatic introduction it is! As Jesus is baptised, two dramatic things happen – the heavens are ‘torn apart’, and the voice of God speaks.

The same voice that at the beginning of the world said ‘Let there be light’ and brought the whole world into being. The same, powerful voice that ‘splits the flash of lightning’, that ‘shakes the wilderness’, and ‘strips the forests bare’. That same voice speaks to make it clear to everyone who Jesus is, and how important he is: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

And as Jesus’ life continues we also discover that his whole purpose is to mend our relationship with our Heavenly Father, and help us to realise just how deeply loved we are.

As we seek to live out this incredible truth today, I wonder: Are we willing to hear God’s voice saying to us, ‘You are my child, my beloved, with you I am well pleased’? Remember that truth, cherish it, hold it with you as we receive communion this morning, and through the rest of this week.

And will we also treat each other with love and respect, remembering that each of our Christian brothers and sister is also a beloved Child of God?

One of my favourite spiritual writers, a Roman Catholic priest called Henri Nouwen, wrote this:

The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved. The one who created us is waiting for our response to the love that gave us our being. God not only says: “You are my Beloved.” God also asks: “Do you love me? And offers us countless chances to say “Yes”.Life of the Beloved, p. 106

The same voice that reveals Jesus to be the Beloved Son, speaks the same words of love to each one of us. God invites each of us today to receive his love, assuring us of our identity as his children, and calls us to respond in love and care for one another.

Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
grant that we who are born again
by water and the Spirit
may rejoice to be called your children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.


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