Weekly Church Service – 13 January, 2019: baptism of our Lord


Sentence:

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22


Collect of the day

Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service, strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Today’s readings

Isaiah 43:1 – 7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14 – 17
Luke 3:15 – 22

Next week:
Isaiah 62:1 – 5
Psalm 36:5 – 10
1 Corinthians 12:1 – 11
John 2: 1 – 11


A thought to ponder upon

Baptism of our Lord – Luke 3:15 – 22

Today’s gospel is the final event of the epiphany. Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan River by John. The Christmas season “officially” (liturgically) comes to an end today at the banks of the Jordan. Jesus is no longer the child in Bethlehem manger but the adult Redeemer making his way to Jerusalem. The good news spoken by the angels continues to unfold, the most wondrous part of the Christ stories yet be revealed.

Today, the same spirit that “anoints” the Messiah for his mission is to be about the work of Christmas in the new year, to seek out and find the lost, to heal the hurting, to feed the hungry, to free the in prison, to rebuild nations, to bring peace to all peoples everywhere.

Luke presents Jesus as the last person to be baptised by John, bringing John’s ministry to completion. Luke describes the scene with many images from the 1st testament.

  • The sky opens (“oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” – Isaiah 63:19)
  • the spirit “descended upon him like a dove” (many rabbis likened the wind above the water at the dawn of Genesis to a dove hovering above its newborn. In employing this image Luke suggests that, in this Jesus, a new Genesis is about to take place)
  • the “voice from heaven” identifies and confirms Jesus (“ Here is my servant… My chosen one with whom I am well pleased” – Isaiah 42:1, today’s first reading, “the Lord said to me, “you are my son, this day I have begotten you” – Psalm 2:7)

Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan comes the moment of God’s “anointing” of his Messiah (the word Messiah means “anointed”) for the work he is about to do.

Baptism is more than just our “naming” ceremony but an ongoing process of becoming the people of faith that God calls us to be. New life in baptism, we claim the name of “Christian” and embrace all that holy name means, to live for others rather than for ourselves, in imitation of Christ.

Our baptism is made each one of us the “servant” of today’s readings, to bring forth in our world for justice, reconciliation and enlightenment of Christ, the “beloved son” and “favour” of God.

In baptism, the same spirit of compassion justice and peace that “descends” upon Jesus that at his baptism by John descends and rests upon us, compelling us to take the work of the gospel.

© Communications/MediaWorks

Christmas Carols at the Greenwood shops

A few of us sang Christmas Carols at the Greenwood shops last night. Some of the singers were out doing shopping and wanted to join in. We sang Carols that added to the ambience of many others doing Christmas shopping and several of the shop holders appreciated the singing and the songs we brought.

What is Advent?

What is Advent?

Advent is the season of the year leading up to Christmas. The word “Advent” itself means “arrival” or “an appearing or coming into place.” Christians often speak of Christ’s “first Advent” and “second Advent”, that is, his first and second comings to Earth. His first Advent would be the incarnation – Christmas time

The Advent season lasts for 4 Sundays. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, or the nearest Sunday 2 November 30. Advent ends on Christmas Eve and thus is not considered part of the Christmas season. The Advent celebration is both a commemoration of Christ’s first coming and an anticipation of his second coming. As Israel longed for their Messiah to come, so Christians long for their Savior to come again. Advent is seen as a time to prepare one’s heart for Christmas and for the ever shall return of Christ (and the judgement He will bring to the world).

Churches that observe Advent usually decorate their sanctuaries the liturgical colour of Advent, royal blue or purple. Some churches change the colour to rose on the 3rd Sunday of Advent to signify a greater emphasis on the joy of the season.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees. On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolise the eternal life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath – an evergreen circle with 4 coloured candles surrounding a white one in the middle – is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lit one at a time, on successive Sundays. The first candle is the candle of “open” or “expectation.” The 3 remaining candles, “peace, joy, love”. On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the central white candle is lit, this is the “Christ candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the light of the world, has come.

Advent calendars, used to count down the days to Christmas, are popular in many homes. And Advent calendar contains a number of covered “windows” that are opened, one a day, until Christmas Day. Each open window reveals a picture related to the season or a poem or a Bible verse or a treat of some kind. Many parents find an Advent calendar is a good way to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas – although there are secular versions of the calendars too.

Should Christians observe advent? There there is certainly nothing wrong with commemorating Jesus birth and anticipating his return – such commemoration and anticipation should be an everyday part of our lives. Are Christians required to observe Advent? No. Does observing Advent make one a better Christian or more acceptable to God? No. Can celebrating Advent be a good reminder of what the season is truly all about? Yes, and therein lies its greatest value.

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