Readings for Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019

Today is the Sunday of the Baptism of Our Lord, also the First Sunday of Epiphany. During the season of Epiphany light is shed upon Jesus’ life, revealing Who He is and the blessings He brings to us. Epiphany ends with Transfiguration Sunday as we transition into Lent.

The First Reading is recorded in Isaiah 43:1-7. What a powerful passage of hope and assurance! The people of Israel were facing a great deal of hardship at the hands of the Babylonians, but the Lord assures the Israelites that He still loves them and that He will deliver them.
The message is true for us today as well; the Lord is ultimately in control of the world and He will keep us in His safe keeping. As you read the passage, think about how powerful and comforting these words are to our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are facing persecution and martyrdom for the Name of Jesus.
Most holy Lord, to You be all glory and praise for Your continuing steadfast love and mercy toward Your people. You are the God Who rescues and redeems. Please keep our brothers and sisters who are facing persecution and martyrdom in Your safe-keeping, and turn all persecutors to You in repentance, leading them to forgiveness in Christ. For persecutors who refuse to repent, deal with them quickly according to Your justice and mercy.
Keep all of us firm in You. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Today’s psalm, Psalm 29, is a psalm that begins with praise; what a wonderful way to begin to turn to the Lord in prayer! Then notice the power of the voice of the Lord in images reminiscent of a powerful thunderstorm. How you ever been humbled and even afraid at the power of a thunderstorm? More so should we be at the voice of the Lord. As the thunderstorm builds, the worshipers of the Lord are reminded of His power and give Him glory!
Notice the last two verses: as the storm reaches its most powerful and frightening strength, the eyes of the psalmist see the Lord sitting enthroned over the chaos and terror, and the Lord giving peace to His people. May we also have peace in the midst of our terrors and chaos, knowing that the Lord is in charge.
God of comfort and peace, so much of our lives are surrounded and filled with chaos and turmoil, at times even terror. As we fear being overwhelmed, raise the eyes of faith to see You sitting enthroned over all, and let us receive the peace You alone can give, the peace which passes all understanding, the peace we have in Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

In the Gospel we will see Jesus’ Baptism. In today’s Second Reading, Romans 6:1-11, the apostle Paul reveals to us the importance of our Baptism into Christ. In Christ the old sinful self is put to death, His death becomes our death, and a new person in Christ is raised up, His resurrection becomes our resurrection. In Christ we are new people. In Christ our enslavement to sin is broken. In Christ we can consider ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. What a wonderful gift the Lord gives to us through Baptism! Let us remember and rejoice in all that the Lord does through this Sacrament.
Gracious Lord, we give You thanks and praise for joining us to Jesus’ death and resurrection in Baptism. Each day keep us rooted and grounded in the grace you give in Baptism. Each day lead us to turn from sin to You. Each day remind us of all Your blessings in Baptism. Each day let us give You thanks and praise for Your grace and mercy in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Today’s Gospel, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22, marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Notice in this reading that we hear Who Jesus is and that His Baptism begins His mission. John the Baptist, the last of the classic prophets, is fulfilling his task to call people to repentance, to get ready for the coming of the Messiah. Notice John’s humility, even though he is so important in God’s plan of redemption, he knows that his place is to point to Jesus (and so is ours), and he does just that.
What an awesome scene it was on that day of Jesus’ Baptism: John the Baptist was getting people ready for the Messiah, and suddenly there He was! When Jesus was Baptized and was praying, the heavens were torn apart and the Holy Spirit came upon Him in the form of a dove, and then the voice of the heavenly Father is heard: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” AWESOME!
In His Baptism Jesus is proclaimed as the Son of God, and His mission is before Him: teach, preach, help those in need, take the sin of humanity upon Himself, die and rise again for the redemption of all who have faith in Him.
In Baptism we, too, are given our identity as children of God, and we are given our mission to be His ambassadors in the world, making Him known to others by our words and deeds so that they will be drawn to Him in faith. Let us be faithful in our mission.
Lord and Savior Jesus, to You be all honor, glory and praise! We are awed by Your Baptism and rejoice that You fulfilled Your identity as the Son of God and Your mission, even to going to the cross for our redemption.
Remind us each day that we, too, are Baptized; that in Baptism we know who we are: children of God; we know to Whom we belong – to You; and that we have a mission to make You known in all we do and say. Enable us to repent of sin each day, to rejoice in our identity as children of God, and to fulfill our mission to be Your ambassadors, Your servants, to the world, calling the people of the world to follow You. In Your Name we pray. Amen.

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