Here at COS we often follow the Revised Common Lectionary (a 3-year schedule of Sunday readings that follows the seasons of the liturgical year), and we will stay with the lectionary right through Eastertide. We now begin the season of Epiphany. Epiphany means revelation, the revelation of Christ as the Light of the World. The first Sunday of Epiphany is always focused on the Baptism of the Lord.
We’re actually cheating this year. We had a guest preacher for the first Sunday of Epiphany, so we decided to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord one week late.
What’s so important about the baptism of the Lord? In each of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus’ ministry begins with his baptism by John. It’s a big deal. And that’s why the lectionary makes sure we read about it and think about it each year.
Excavations of early Christian churches have discovered that the baptistery, the area of the church where baptisms were performed, was often decorated with mosaics of the baptism of Christ. They knew something that we have sometimes forgotten. Jesus’ baptism tells us about our own baptism.
Baptism unites us with Christ in his death and resurrection. Not only that, being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, unites us through Christ into that most glorious and intimate fellowship of all, the Holy Trinity. Remembering our baptism, we remember who we really are by renewing our strong bond with Christ, and anticipating our destiny of sharing in the glory and love of the Triune God.
Each Sunday, we remember our baptism, reminding us that in Christ, we are accepted as righteous before God. This is important because you may have been baptized when you were an infant, or it may have taken place many years ago.
This Sunday, celebrating the Baptism of the Lord, you will have an even more tangible and personal opportunity to remember your baptism. As you return to your seats after communion, you are invited to physically touch the water and remember, in whatever way feels best, that you have been baptized in the name of the Triune God.