Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
What is Baptism in the Episcopal Church. This is how it reads at the Episcopal Church web site:
“Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 298).
In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ.
Did all of you know that there is a catechism (now called an outline of the faith) in the Book of Common Prayer? Here is what it says about baptism.
What is Holy Baptism? It is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's body the Church and inheritors of the kingdom of God.
What is the outward and visible sign in baptism? The outward and visible sign is water in which the person is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Next is a much meatier question. What is the inward and spiritual grace in baptism? The inward and spiritual grace in baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God's family the Church, forgiveness of sins and a new life in the holy spirit.
If you look at the baptismal covenant you will see that we are asked to turn away from Satan and all his works. The way I read it, I am being asked to turn away from sin. Fortunately, our God is a forgiving God and when we do make those wrong turns in our lives and we sincerely asks God's forgiveness he forgives us and we are cleansed.
I am grateful that Jesus came into this world and gave us a message of love and hope and the promise of everlasting life in him.
As all of you know this is the season of Epiphany but what does that mean. Well in a few words it means the introduction of Jesus to the gentiles. Who were those gentiles. We don't really know. Our nativity sets usually show three kings on camels but all Matthew says is wise men from the east. We don't know much more about them. We can assume there were more than one and we can also assume they were men of means because of the presents they offered.
What is truly important to me is the symbolism they offer to the story of Jesus' birth. They were probably not Jews and yet they recognized the importance of the birth of this child. This was a child who would change the world. Jesus was not just for the Jews but he would be there for all of humanity.