baptism and faith in Jacksonville Presbyterian ChurchYesterday in many churches around the world, we celebrated the baptism of Jesus. Imagine the scene for just a minute, nearly two thousand years ago. Jesus is standing in the mud with a crowd of sinners. John the Baptizer is wrapped in camel’s hair, eating locus and wild honey. He stands on the bank of the river, clearly a little unnerved. Jesus asks to be baptized, but John thinks it should be the other way around.

Now what’s key in that culture, there was a strong sense of shame and honor. Jesus humbles himself by giving up his rightful place of honor. And, he humbles himself by completely identifying with people in need.

In his gospel, Matthew tells us that as Jesus comes up out of the water – the heavens open, the Spirit descends down on him, and God speaks, “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

We learn a lot from this simple passage: Jesus is God’s Son. And, God’s Son is humble. He stands with those in need. He stands with you and with me. He shows us the way to salvation, the way through the waters, the way through humility and service and sacrifice and love. May we always be ready to follow.

Let us pray: God of ages past, God of the New Year ahead, Lord even of this moment, thank you for your love, for your grace, for your claim upon our lives. We offer ourselves to your service again this day. Teach us to listen for your word and grant us the humility to follow. We pray in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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