The first Sunday after Epiphany always focuses on the baptism of Jesus. This year Luke’s version of this story is the main reading. You might notice that Luke gives a very sparse description of the events – just two simple verses explaining that Jesus was baptised and that the Holy Spirit descended and God’s voice spoke words of affirmation. But, in the reading that is set for this Sunday, a few additional verses are included before the baptism account. Here we find John telling people about the One who was to come, and proclaiming him as the one who would baptise others with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The other readings that you may hear in church this week all reflect on this “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and how it touches followers of Jesus. This means that the Scriptures for this week are inviting us to be more than spectators of Jesus experience of baptism. They are inviting us to be participants in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that Jesus brings.
As we face the challenges of each day, as we wrestle with the great crises of our time, we cannot help but recognise that we need resources beyond our human abilities and wisdom. We cannot heal our planet with human effort alone. We cannot bring peace to the world through human wisdom alone. We cannot eradicate poverty or dread disease, and we cannot provide homes, sanitation, water and food for everyone on earth through human ability only. Even on a personal level, we cannot find abundant life in our own strength. We need love beyond our own to keep our relationships strong and healthy. We need generosity beyond our own to ensure that our families and communities can have enough to live. We need grace and forgiveness beyond our own to find ways to reconcile with those who have hurt us or have been hurt by us. The Good News this week, though, is that God has provided us with resources beyond our human capacities. God has made available to us divine wisdom, strength, guidance, and love through God’s Holy Spirit. This week our reflections will help us to be ever more ready to receive this amazing gift.
To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.