When Jesus went to Jordan’s stream
his Father’s will obeying,
and was baptized by John, there came
a voice from heaven saying,
“This is my dear beloved Son
upon whom rests my favor.”
And till God’s will is fully done
he will not bend or waver,
for he is Christ the Savior.
The Holy Spirit then was shown,
a dove on him descending;
the Triune God is thus made known
in Christ as love unending.
He taught, he healed, he raised the dead,
yet, in his great endeavor
to save us, his own blood was shed;
but death could hold him never.
He rose, and lives for ever.
He came by water and by blood
to heal our lost condition;
he cleanses, reconciles to God,
and gives the Great Commission.
Then let us not heed worldly lies
nor rest upon our merit,
but trust in Christ who will baptize
with water and the Spirit
that we may life inherit.
–Words: Martin Luther (1483-1546); para. F. Bland Tucker (1895-1984), rev.
–Tune: CHRIST UNSER HERR ZUM JORDAN KAM, melody Geystliche gesangh Buchleyn, 1524
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
–Words: Matthew 5:3-12 (King James Version)
–Music: Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)
In baptism, God says: ‘Remember who you are. Remember what you’re here for. So, let’s go!’ –Rev. Andrew K. Barnett
This sermon by The Rev. Andrew K. Barnett of Washington National Cathedral stuck a chord with me. Probably because of me going through a similar experience with the death of my mother a little over a year ago. But also because what he says about God’s call to us in baptism speaks to my soul.
When we are naked and alone, newborn or on a deathbed, or anything in between with nothing but the body God gave us, we are still and especially a creature of God. Built for loving. Equipped for serving. Called to return to wholeness. That is who we are. –Rev. Andrew K. Barnett
At the very core of who we are, we are creatures of God, beautifully and wonderfully created in God’s image. In the waters of baptism, God’s covenant with us is sacramentally made known to us. We are bonded in an unbreakable relationship with God. And that is a beautiful thing to periodically remind ourselves of.
We are God’s beloved. Thanks be to God!
Behold a star from Jacob shining, and a scepter from Israel rising, to reign in glory over the nations. Like some bright morning star is he, the promise of the coming day, beyond the night of sorrow. Break forth, O light! We, our joyful hearts uplifting with thanksgiving, hail the brightness of thy rising.
–Music: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
–Words: arr. by Henry Wilder Foote, after Numbers 24:17
When Christ’s appearing was made known,
King Herod trembled for his throne;
but he who offers heavenly birth
sought not the kingdoms of this earth.
The eastern sages saw from far
and followed on his guiding star;
by light their way to Light they trod,
and by their gifts confessed their God.
Within the Jordan’s sacred flood
the heavenly Lamb in meekness stood,
that he, to whom no sin was known,
might cleanse his people from their own.
Oh, what a miracle divine,
when water reddened into wine!
He spoke the word, and forth it flowed
in streams that nature ne’er bestowed.
All glory, Jesus, be to thee
for this thy glad epiphany:
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.
Words: Caelius Sedulius (5th century)
What star is this, with beams so bright,
more beauteous than the noonday light?
It shines to herald forth the King,
and Gentiles to his crib to bring.
True spake the prophet from afar
who told the rise of Jacob’s star;
and eastern sages with amaze
upon the wondrous token gaze.
The guiding star above is bright;
within them shines a clearer light,
and leads them on with power benign
to seek the Giver of the sign.
To God the Father, heavenly Light,
to Christ, revealed in earthly night,
to God the Holy Ghost we raise
our equal and unceasing praise.
–Words: Charles Coffin, 1736; trans. John Chandler, 1837, alt.
–Tune: PUER NOBIS (15th century)
Go, tell it on the mountain,
over the hills and everywhere;
go, tell it on the mountain,
that Jesus Christ is born.
While shepherds kept their watching
over silent flocks by night
behold throughout the heavens
there shone a holy light. Refrain
The shepherds feared and trembled,
when lo! above the earth,
rang out the angels chorus
that hailed the Savior’s birth. Refrain
[Down in a lowly manger
the humble Christ was born
and God sent us salvation
that blessèd Christmas morn. Refrain]
–Words: African-American spiritual, nineteenth century
–Tune: GO TELL IT (19th century African-American spiritual)