Scripture Introductions

Baptism of Our Lord January 8, 2012 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
Our readings today may be linked with emphases on beginning, on water, on God's voice, and on the Holy Spirit. The first reading is of Creation, the Priestly explanation. The Spirit is pictured hovering over the unformed universe, as a mother bird fluffs her feathers and settles over her nest so that her egg can hatch. Then God, without warning of the change in focus, speaks Light into being. (The first words may be better translated as "In the beginning of God's creating," to give a smoother translation and to take into account the particular form of the Hebrew. (Here we may have an example of the way the Bible writers can take a perhaps familiar story and convert it to the Lord's [YHWH's, Adonai's] service. In this case, it may be from Babylon, and the time of the Exile. ) Let us listen to the introduction to the "First Day," in Genesis 1:1-5 You may wish to reserve your acclaim to follow the Gospel reading, or use traditional terms, or say something like, "May we rejoice in the Light. Amen. "
Psalm 29 echoes the theme of water and God speaking, as it sings praise to the power of God's voice. Let us listen to Psalm 29 (VU p. 755-756)
Rather than an Epistle, we turn to the book of Acts. Paul has just met a group of believers. In the background of this account is the influence and tension between followers of Jesus and followers of John the Baptist. Both use water in Baptism, but Jesus' followers rejoiced also in the Spirit. (Apollos was a powerful speaker who had been influenced by the teaching of John the Baptist and then by early Christians. For a while, he was even seen to be in competition with Paul. ) Let us listen, as the story unfolds, in: Acts 19:1-7 May we respond to the Good News with Spirit and enthusiasm. Amen.
Powerful symbols meet in the story of Jesus' Baptism. John the Baptist represents prophecy and the anticipation of Messiah. The Jordan River represents the crossing of the Chosen People into the Promised Land. Water represents cleansing, refreshing, and, more importantly, it is life-giving, and speaks of Creation. The Spirit appears in bird form in the Creation story and God speaks; here, God speaks. (As Joseph names Jesus as his child, here God proclaims him as God's Son!) The passage speaks of a New Creation! Let us rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us, in: (Or: Let us listen closely for the Good News for us, in: Mark 1:4-11 Praise be to God, who named Jesus God's Son. Amen. It is appropriate to offer thanks and praise. (Comments to Stew at Lawrencetown, NS. B2Z 1E4