Friday in the First Week of Lent, Year B
Reading: Mark 1: 9 – 13
Scripture: “In those days, Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan…” (Mark 1:9)
Reflection: When you read the story of Jesus’ baptism, year after year, does it mean the same thing each time? Does it mean anything at all? It is so easy for sacraments to become empty rituals, for signs to become mere symbols.
We’ve discovered that the story of Jesus’ baptism has several versions; each slightly different from the other. In one, it even seems that we may not really know who did the baptising (Luke 3: 21). Perhaps that is why, in our tradition, you don’t have to be a priest to perform a baptism, although this usually only happens if an ordained person is not available. But, the fact that each of us as baptised persons can baptise someone who wishes to be baptised, is an important indicator of who we are as, “the baptised”. Because, our baptism is not one of repentance.
Imagine Jesus making his way down to the River Jordan. Today, it is a muddy, shallow and dirty shadow of itself. The countries around the RiverJordan have diverted it to their own uses. In Jesus’ time, it would still have had a powerful flow. How do you envision the thoughts that went through the minds of Jesus and John, and the many bystanders?
What is he thinking as he draws near the waters flowing through the deepest of valleys?
His foreparents had once crossed these waters, escaping from pain and fear into freedom.
Did he know how much pain he would have to endure?
He’d left the safety and comfort of his village in Nazareth.
Did he tell anyone that he was going?
Did Mary see him leave?
His cousin John had always been the excitable one
Even before he was born!
“Look at how you are living”
“Repent and be baptised!”
Did he pause before he took the last few steps?
Did he smile at John’s surprise and confusion as he reassured him?
Did he know what would happen to his outspoken cousin, and wish it wouldn’t be so?
When you confront the powerful, when you hold up a mirror, they may turn away.
But they will not forget.
He strode into the water, and placed himself in John’s strong arms.
Another pair of arms would soon hold his broken, bloodied frame.
The blue green waters closed in over his head
And he went down as into the grave
Then he emerged and the heavens rejoiced
A voice declared his membership
In the household of God.
The Ethiopian official whom Phillip baptised, was not repentant (wishing to turn away from his previous ways). (Acts 8: 26 – 39a) He was excited to discover someone who was able to tell him of developments in the story of the long-awaited Messiah. He knew about the Messiah, because he was a follower of Judaism. On hearing Phillip’s account, he wanted to become a follower of Jesus. He wanted to be included in the household of these new believers.
Meditation: Let all who thirst come drink and be refreshed.
Prayer: God of creation,
You hovered over the formless void and separated waters from waters:
Water is your gift to this world, yet so often we have used it unwisely.
We ask your guidance in our stewardship of water.
We pray for all the people of the earth,
that we may realize our place within nature and live in harmony
as members of your household,
Showing ourselves to be signs of your abiding love. Amen.
(Adapted, World Council of Churches, 2012)
The St. Jude’s Writers
St. Jude’s Church
Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands
26 February 2021