Oh how we hate to close church! But we’re also out here in the country and many of our folks would be putting their lives in danger trying to get there. So how about we pray at home. Below is a simple Morning Prayer service you can pray alone or with family along with some thoughts from what was going to be my message today. Enjoy your time and be safe. (If you wish to pray the full Morning Prayer it begins on page 80 in the Book of Common Prayer or you can pray it online at www.dailyoffice.org…just click on the menu on the upper right and hit North America…
Begin by sitting quietly for a minute and settling your mind. Don’t pray, don’t ask for anything…just sit. Be in the presence of God. Remember God is everywhere, not just at the church.
When you feel settled begin simply by saying
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.
A Psalm for today:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
A reading from the Gospel of Luke:
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ..”
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Some thoughts on the Baptism of Our Lord:
I think this Gospel message can be confusing. Why does Jesus have to be baptized? Isn’t he the one, as John says, that should be baptizing John? Jesus submits to this because in many ways this is his coming out party. John, who was born for nothing more than this, presenting Jesus, sees him coming and says ‘this is the one.’ John knows this is what he is alive to do, he knows that now Jesus must take over and bring fulfillment to the scriptures. So today with Jesus’ Baptism and the anointing by the Holy Spirit Jesus really begins his public ministry and the beginning of his teaching both in words and actions.
When I was baptized–at age 28–I had to convince the priest to do it. Not because he didn’t want to receive me into the church but because he wanted to make sure I realized that just as baptism was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, my baptism was the beginning of my life with Christ and in many ways the beginning of my ministry. He also reminded me when we say we will follow Christ, we say we will live differently than the rest of the world, we will serve the poor, be of peace, love more…he said ‘are you sure you’re ready to do this? This isn’t easy work,’
Of course the Rev. William D. Eddy (who soon became like a second father to me) wasn’t really discouraging me about being baptized . He was telling me to get ready; get ready because once Jesus gets you-he’s got you-and he will demand things of you and make you one of his own forever. And he will require you to not ‘be of this world.’
For us at Christ Church I think we can say ‘he’s got us.’ We’re a simple community of believers just trying to understand what that means and how we can serve him, how we can live out our baptismal promises. We are an entire congregation of people who live faithfully because, as John said, ‘this is the one.’
So this morning, as we sit at home looking at the beautiful snow, let us reflect on our own baptismal promises (which we repeat every time we baptize someone to remind us of our commitment) and let us remember that when Jesus calls us, he calls us. And we have no choice but to follow. AMEN
Take time for silent prayer and to pray for those in your heart and the world.
Say the Lord’s Prayer
Close with the Collect of the Day:
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit, grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting, Amen.
Then close with this that we use to send forth each Sunday:
Lord never let us sell ourselves short. Help us to do something big for something good, everyday. Help us to know the world is much too large for anything but truth and much too small for anything but love. Now let us serve God by the way we live our lives and the way we treat each other. Amen.