On Day One—John the Baptist says, “There is the Lamb of God!” pointing to Jesus.
We are not sure exactly who he is talking to–then he tells his experience of recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, when John baptized him in the River Jordan. Continue reading
A few years ago, I was trading emails with a priest who serves at Trinity Wall Street; Mark Bozzuti-Jones is their priest for pastoral care and community.
I don’t remember anymore what we were talking about, but I will never forget how he addressed me in those emails. He called me Anne of God! I found that very daunting. I wondered how anyone would live up to a name like that. Continue reading
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, by John the Baptist.
The Baptism of Christ
We read in Mark that John was in the wilderness, miles and miles from the city of Jerusalem, yet many people came out to hear him preach about how they should change their lives and live the way God wanted them to. This was good news to the people, and they stepped forward into the river to wash away the past, and to dedicate themselves to this new life. Jesus was one of the people who came to be baptized, and at that moment the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and he heard God’s voice name him his son, the beloved. This was the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, the ministry that led him to preach and teach, feed and heal.
This story tells us why we are baptized today. No matter how old we are, we begin a new life with the special blessing of God calling us his children, and the Holy Spirit descending upon us. Even if we don’t hear God’s voice, or see a dove, all of that is still happening in a sacred way. Baptism is a sacrament of the church. A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. (From the Book of Common Prayer, page 857). So our Baptism is a special connection with Jesus, because he experienced the very same thing.
Food for thought:
- What happens when someone is baptized?
- Do you remember your own baptism? What do you remember?
- Why was John the Baptist so important?
Children’s activities (coloring and word puzzles) and, if age-appropriate, you might cut out dove shapes for the children to write their names on and wear as nametags, showing that God knows their name and the Holy Spirit is present.
My mother’s favorite Biblical character is John the Baptist. She goes right back to her memories of childhood Sunday school when she hears the description in Mark 1:1-8 of John “clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.” He is the ferocious prophet in the New Testament who looks and sounds like the vigorous, loud prophets we know from the Old Testament. He even quotes an O.T. prophet: Isaiah. The Gospel of Mark starts with John, because he is predicting the coming of Jesus, who we first meet in Mark as an adult. John is in the wilderness baptizing the people who came to hear him preach, and who want a new beginning of life. He cries “Repent!” In the original Greek the word is “Metanoia” meaning to turn around or to change your thinking, to have a change of heart. My nephew Jaime, when he was little, and unhappy about something, used to cry out: “Rewind! I want a rewind!” Even little ones know that they need a fresh start to erase a mistake. By washing people in the river Jordan, John was using a ritual to give people a fresh start–a new way of being that would prepare them for the new world that was coming with the arrival of the long hoped-for Messiah. John is the one who baptized Jesus, and when he came out of the water the Holy Spirit landed on him like a dove. And that was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
Food for thought:
How do you get a fresh start?
If you walked miles into the wilderness, what would you be hoping to see?
Do you remember being baptized? What do you think when you see people being baptized in church?
How do you know when something important is happening to you?
John the Baptist, as described in the Gospels: Mark (last week) and in John (this week) is an important figure. When Mary left home after her encounter with the angel (the annunciation) and when she was carrying her child, she went to her relative Elizabeth–who was pregnant with John.