A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (43:1-7)
Now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
- The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus – restored in the 1979 Prayer Book.
- Epiphany was the season of baptism in the Eastern Church.
- It started with 40 days of fasting.
- In these verses God reasserts his claim to Israel.
- God has chosen Israel and loves them even though they do not deserve it.
- Signs of a new beginning are shown.
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you gods, *
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his Name; *
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders; *
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice; *
the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; *
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, *
and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire;
the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; *
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
8 The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe *
and strips the forests bare.
9 And in the temple of the Lord *
all are crying, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned above the flood; *
the Lord sits enthroned as King for evermore.
11 The Lord shall give strength to his people; *
the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
- These same verses of Psalms are used every year on this day.
- In the claps of thunder, the psalmist hears the voice of the Lord.
- At this time there are believed to be more than one god, thus the reference to “other gods.”
- The storm comes in from the north over Lebanon.
A Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (8:14-17)
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
- The early church had not yet reached Samaria.
- Stephen was the first martyr in Judea.
- Phillip goes to Samaria and baptizes a number of people there.
- Peter and John are commissioned to go and check up on the progress there.
- In the beginning people were baptized only in the name of Jesus and not the Holy Trinity.
- A mixed picture is presented in Acts as regards baptism and the laying of hands to accept the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (3:15-17,21-22)
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
- John is not mentioned in this baptism scene.
- The focus in Luke is on the voice that comes from heaven.
- It designates that Jesus is the true messenger of God.
- In Mark only Jesus hears the voice.
- In Matthew everyone hears the voice as Jesus is seen as the new Moses.
- In Luke, it falls somewhere in-between.
- The heavens opening up is typical in apocalyptic literature.
- Why a dove? We are not sure about this symbolism.
- This event begins Jesus’ Galilean ministry.