Sunday, January 4, 2015

First Sunday of Ordinary Time (The Baptism of our Lord, Year B)

Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm 29
1 John 5:1-10
Mark 1:7-11

REFLECTION: "I Think We're Missing Something Here..."

As we commemorate Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River in our worship today, it’s somewhat natural for our thoughts to turn to our own baptism, whenever in life that was. Now, on the surface, that’s fine… but turning this particular day into something of a mini-baptismal remembrance day ultimately fails the Scriptures we share and the message they bear. Friends, I think the contemporary Church is missing something here.
Today’s Gospel marks a significant ‘theophany’ of God – perhaps the most significant in Biblical history. The word itself in the original Greek breaks down as, θεο (god) φάνεια (appearance) should reveal to us what is at the heart of our celebration today- something often missed in our culture’s understanding of Christ and Christianity in the twenty-first century.

Many people accept Jesus Christ as a great moral teacher. Thomas Jefferson was one such man. In addition to being a founding father of the United States, Jefferson prepared his own edition of the Bible. He sliced out everything that was not a record of the moral teachings of Christ… Jefferson himself wrote: “Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God.” He classified the authors of the New Testament as “ignorant, unlettered men” who produced “superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications.” He dismissed the concept of the Trinity as “mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”
And so, Jefferson’s work is devoid of any mention of what we hear about in today’s Gospel, because if it was included, he’d have to concede that God fully revealed himself at the Jordan. Jesus is not a moralist. He is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Incarnate God.

God is still revealing himself today… through Scripture, in Sacrament, in prayer, in our assembled Christian community, and in the still, quiet spaces of our hearts. The fullness of our Triune God seeks to come and make his home within us. That is the glory of the Scriptures we have heard today, and it is the truth that fills us with a firm hope of God’s eternal presence in our lives.