On January 1, I announced a new blog series here at Joy Woven Deep. If you haven’t seen that post yet, I encourage you to check it out, then come on back and join in the journey.
The Baptism of the Lord
What day does it fall on? The answer to this varies based on tradition.
Western Anglican & Roman Catholic – January 10 (the first Sunday of Epiphany/Ordinary Time)
Episcopal USA & Eastern Orthodox – always January 6 (as part of the “The Great Feast of Theophany” – what we observed as Epiphany)
What season are we in? Epiphany/Ordinary Time (January 6 to February 9, 2016)
What’s this day all about?
The Baptism of the Lord celebrates just that, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and Christ’s earthly ministry was initiated, which is cause for celebration indeed. This account can be found in Matthew 3.
What’s the history of this celebration?
Well, it depends a bit on who you ask. Because some view The Baptism of the Lord as an integral part of Epiphany, and some view it as a separate feast day, the historical accounts can get a little crossed and confusing. For the purposes of this blog, we will mark four holidays which are all in the spirit of Epiphany, of which this holiday is the second. The baptism has always been recognized by the church as an imperative moment in the story of Christ, worthy of celebration.
So, how could we observe it?
- Read the Daily Office texts here or via this app.
- Read the Lectionary texts.
- Pray “the Collect” for The Baptism of the Lord.
- Sing or read aloud When Jesus Came to Jordan.
- White is the color for The Baptism of the Lord, so a vase of white flowers, a white candle, or a white tablecloth could serve as a simple day-long reminder to reflect and celebrate.
- Reflect on your own baptism, or, if you have not been baptized, consider talking to your church’s leadership about taking that step.
- Bundle up with family members, friends or roommates and visit a nearby body of water. Take a moment to read the account of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew, and reflect upon and/or discuss what the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry meant then and what it means for us now.
What’s it to me?
Reflecting on the initiation of Christ’s earthly ministry fills me with joyous anticipation, similar to advent. The baptism, like the birth, is an inductive occurrence, a sign of the things to come, a revealing of the Holy One Who will do what no one else could ever do. Because of our place in church history, we know what is coming next. We know that Christ will go on to spend three years doing the Father’s will on earth, loving, healing, proclaiming, teaching and sanctifying. And we know that, ultimately, His obedience will lead Him to death on a cross, and, gloriously, to the resurrection and ascension. This moment of baptism reminds me of the things that were to come after it, and beckons me to hope for the things that are to come when Christ returns.
So, boil it down for me, would you?
The Baptism of the Lord celebrates the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry, marked by His baptism by John the Baptist after which the Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Jesus. We celebrate the beginning of Christ’s ministry as it teaches us more about Him, gives us hope for what is to come both Scripturally after the baptism and in the future when Christ returns, and it invites us to join with Christ in both baptism and the ministry of reconciliation.
I would love for you to join the conversation. Would you add your voice to the conversation via blog post comments or on my Facebook page and share your thoughts on these questions with us?
- What are your ideas for observing Baptism of the Lord?
- Which components of exploring liturgy and the Christian calendar are you thinking about this week?
- Is this series serving you well? What are you enjoying? How could it improve?
PS – Today is the last day of the (sold out!) Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner giveaway! Click here to enter.