Sunday, January 7, 2018
Baptism of Our Lord /First Sunday after Epiphany

Three wonders mark this holy day as the Church is joined to Christ.
This day a star leads the magi to the Christ-child.
This day water is made wine at the wedding feast.
This day Jesus is revealed as the Christ in the waters of baptism.
Alleluia! Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reading                                The Magi Worship the Christ                                               Matthew 2:1-12

Let us pray. O God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star.  Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives, and bring us at last to the full version of your glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Epiphany;  that moment of discovery, of revelation,  there is new understanding, increased awareness, we are comforted with a great aha.  The Epiphany of our Lord, joined with the Baptism of Our Lord offers us the great revelations of who has come, what he brings, and whose we are.

The Three Wise men guide us to discover who has come.  In light of who this new born king is;  those mysterious foreigners show us what it can mean to behold him, to welcome and worship him, to pay him the homage he is due:  No distant is too great.  No journey is too difficult.  No degree of being outsiders too excluding.  No gift is too costly to bring.

With all that they thought they were going to encounter, who can blame them for first looking in the palace: a place of power, of privilege, and of popularity.  But that is not where this king who comes from heaven is to be found.  That is not who God’s Word made flesh is to be.  Our king comes to live among us, to be with us, to live our life – hardships and all, even dying our death.  He joins with us from day one of his earthly life.

Our king is to be found not lording over us, not enjoying privilege, not doing and saying that which will increase his popularity.  We know all too well that this is what earthly kings and leaders do and strive for.  This king that has been born, comes to serve us, invite us, bestow power on us, create communities of respect and regard.

This is our king.  The one we seek to understand and to worship.  This is who has come.  And we say aha and alleluia.

Reading                     Water is Turned to Wine by the Christ                                              John 2:1-11

Let us pray.  Lord God, source of every blessing, you showed forth your glory and led many to faith by the works of your Son, who brought gladness and salvation to his people.  Transform us by the Spirit of his love, that we may find our life together in him; Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Yes, the king has come.  He brings not demands for tribute, not tax bills, not burdens that break his subjects and keep them impoverished and wanting.

That day in Cana – the first of his signs, tells us that Jesus our Savior King comes filling our need with his grace-filled glory.  The son of a non-descript peasant from a nowhere town comes transforming the ordinary of our lives into the extraordinary of his kingdom that fills creation and knows no end.  He comes turning our sorrow into joy.

We can plan and stock up and do our best to provide and fill our jugs and our pantries and our bank accounts and our 401Ks.  We can fill our calendars and our facebook news feeds and our bellies.  But at some point all of them will leave us unsatisfied, wanting, searching for more.  All will be empty.

Our need, and the deep, honest admission of that need, brings opportunity, occasion, and testimony to the overwhelming and abundant fulfillment that is ours in Jesus Christ.  This is what he brings.  And all we can say is aha and alleluia.

Reading                    The Christ is Baptized by John                                                       Mark 1:4-11

Let us pray.  O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful to their calling to be your daughters and sons, and empower us all with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen

The king comes.  The Savior brings fulfillment.  These bring us to the third epiphany of this day – the discovery of how we fit in, or better put – whose we are.  This king and peasant, this Savior and servant stands among us on the banks of the river.  We have come telling the truth about ourselves.  We have come speaking repentance and seeking renewal.  We have come lost and alone.  We have come for a wash up.  And with his presence.  With his transforming participation in our earthly existence.  With heaven coming down to earth in him and through him.  With the power of the Holy Spirit falling afresh on us.  We hear the voice that tears the heavens apart.  God’s love cannot be contained even in the heavens.  It comes pouring down upon him, upon us, like a dove, like a light, like peace.  No, it is light, it is peace, it is recreating power that tells us, each one of us, whose we are.

The one who created us.  The one who we rebelled against.  The one who we keep trying to insist that we do not need.  That God of mercy and grace tears heaven open for our sake.  Comes to earth for our sake.  Proclaims us children and heirs, for our sake.  Hear the voice of love say:  You are my child, my beloved, in you I am well pleased.  And then with all the awareness that we can muster with the help of the faith-building Holy Spirit, let us say aha, and alleluia.  As we live for our king, rejoice in God’s glorious fulfillment, and grow as God’s claimed and redeemed children.

The Rev. Mark Erson,


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