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.
My Dad didn’t go swimming very often. When he did, he swam very stiffly—wishing he were out of the water as quick as possible. Why? He told me that one time when he was a boy he was saved by his older brother from nearly drowning.
Baptism has something of that same idea of death about it. By going down into the water, we express a dying; by coming out of the water we rise to new life. It’s a powerful symbol of death and resurrection. It all begins with John the Baptist and especially with Jesus.
Except for the story of the loss and finding of Jesus in the Temple when he was twelve, we don’t have much written history about Jesus as a boy or a young man. He was quietly growing in Nazareth. He had friends in his neighborhood and a regular family life. All of this quiet privacy would come to an end with Jesus being baptized by his cousin John in the Jordan. Picture the event in your imagination…Jesus in a crowd, waiting his turn for baptism. Jesus makes himself like everybody else.
Place yourself there and be baptized. Notice the feelings of death and being born again after death that this sacrament expresses. You needn’t be afraid of what might come against you in scary things, as my Dad was frightened by the water. Trust that God is right how raising you to new life.
Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Clearing the floor of my life v. 17
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.
This is the Second Week in Epiphany
Winter in the north. Year C
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary
Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.