Baptism of Jesus!
8I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit. Mark 1:8
Beloved Son of God, whose Way was revealed in humility, through water and Spirit; you received a baptism of repentance. Empower all who are baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to embrace that commissioning and to serve you faithfully in love. For you are alive and reign with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Gospel: Mark 1: 4-11
The Baptism of Jesus
John the baptiser appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptised you with water; but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.
Well whanau, we’re off! In the twinkling of an eye and the span of a few verses in Mark’s gospel, we see Jesus as an adult at the Jordan River ready to be baptised by his cousin, John. With a sense of urgency and excitement, Mark provides a compact account of this event, highlighted with God speaking, the heavens opening up and the Holy Spirit descending down onto the newly baptised Son of the Living God.
From Mark’s account, John the Baptist makes it abundantly clear that there will be one who is different, one who will baptise with the Spirit and the one who will be the real deal! The “one who is more powerful than I” shows up to be baptised with water, to submit to John’s baptism even though John states as being not worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. It’s a pivotal moment, but Mark doesn’t linger long because there’s so much more to tell. No fancy baptismal cake and photo opportunities for Jesus; there’s no time to rest. One minute the Son of God is soaking wet and basking in the affirmation of his Father, and the next minute he’s driven into the wilderness by the very same Spirit that just descended on him.
We celebrate the baptism of our Lord each year but what connections do we make between Jesus’ commissioning and him getting driven head-on into ministry at the insistence of the Spirit? For many of us, today may serve to remind us of our own baptism and the day we were baptised, whether or not we realised what was happening. Maybe we made our own promises, or perhaps someone made them on our behalf, like a lot of us older ones. Do we see it as a commissioning, as the point in which we were called and we are continually called to dive into the deep waters of mission and ministry ourselves?
You see, we walk in Jesus’ footprints and each one of us is called, named, claimed, and sent, whether we know it or not. I was speaking with a brother in Christ yesterday. Someone who has ministered in Sydney for over 30 years, with a number of those years proclaiming the gospel in Kings Cross. We spoke about how we were baptised as infants and neither one of us ever thought we’d be called, commissioned and sent out to minister to others and with a mission to bring them back to God through proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet, here we are.
That’s why it’s important to remember that not all people have experienced baptism yet, and many may have questions about it as an entry point of faith. So, as a church, are we prepared and ready to receive others to begin their faith journey, make room at the table for them and trust the Spirit working in their lives? Can we take our own baptismal promises seriously and live into them afresh every day? This week’s reading from Genesis reminds us of the creative power of God to speak everything into existence, to name night and day, even as God names us as children in the waters of baptism. In the beginning…God created. God is still creating, redeeming, restoring, and renewing. Baptism marked a new beginning for Jesus, and baptism marks a new beginning for each one of us, including those yet to be baptised. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Archdeacon Kaio Karipa
The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu
Photo: 08 Jan 2021