Sunday, January 12, 2020

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - January 12, 2020 - A Celebration of the Baptism of Jesus - Presiders: Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Terri Kersch

Welcome and Theme: Welcome to a celebration of the Baptism of Jesus. Today’s readings remind us that we are Beloved of God who delights in each of us so Terri and I are delighted to see each of you and to celebrate together.

Baptism is a public celebration of the birthright fact that we are endowed with the Spirit of God; the sacred anointing of baptismal water is just the first of many times in life that we claim our place as people of covenant with the Divine, tasked with bringing forth justice to a world in need and light to its darkest corners.

Opening Prayer: Please raise your hands for A Blessing of Water

Spirit of Living Water,
You hold all of creation in your womb
And spring us forward onto the earth at birth

Spirit of the Tides,
Remind us of the rise and fall of your rhythms
So that we may discover them deep within our being.

Spirit of Greenness,
Bring moistness and vigor to our lives
So that we may savor the experience of your energy
Moving through us out into the world
Blessings of water be upon each of us
May we be carried by the flow of the great river of life.
May we discover a hidden spring within, gushing forth,
May we be carried to the shores of the sacred and renewed. Amen.

Opening Song: Come to the Water
First Reading from Isaiah

Here is my Servant, whom I uphold
My chosen one, in whom I delight!
I have endowed you with my Spirit
that you may bring true justice to the nations.
You do not cry out or raise your voice,
or make yourself heard in the street.
So gentle that you do not break a bruised reed,
Or quench a wavering flame,
faithfully you will bring forth true justice.
You will neither waver nor be crushed
until justice is established on earth.

I, Yahweh, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand, and I watch over you.
I have appointed you to be a covenant people,
A light to the nations:
to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.
These are the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah and
we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Gospel Reading from Mathew

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. John tried to dissuade Jesus, saying, I should be baptized by you, and yet you come to me!”

But Jesus replied, “Leave it this way for now. We must do this to completely fulfill God’s justice. So John reluctantly agreed.

Immediately after Jesus had been baptized and was coming up out of the water, the sky suddenly opened up and Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and hovering over him. With that, a voice from the heavens said, “This is my Own, my Beloved, on whom my favor rests.”

These are the inspired words of the gospel writer known as Mathew and we affirm them by saying, Amen. 

Starter Homily by Lynn Kinlan ARCWP

Our first reading is the one of four Suffering Servant Songs or poems crafted by Isaiah as an ongoing conversation between Yahweh and Israel. The songs profile Jews as chosen or beloved (which are synonyms in Greek) people of the covenant, endowed with the Spirit of God who is present with them even in tough times.

Isaiah’s original audience were Jews who had been deported from Palestine to Babylon after Jerusalem and the first temple were destroyed. Imagine, they were exiled from their language, culture and homeland and now this poet guy Isaiah is telling them how they should bring light to the nations and work to free captives.

Even in the midst of exile and suffering, there is no exemption from service nor any break from the faith. Indeed, Jews have managed to keep the faith in times of occupation, exile, schism and holocaust over thousands of years. They and we are inspired by an understanding of a God who holds us each by the hand and who gives the gentle strength to live with integrity.

Of course, the Servant Song brings to mind the finest of Suffering Servants, Jesus, who reads Isaiah’s words in the temple one day and offers living water to the woman at the well. Gentle service in the tradition of Isaiah will bring Jesus to the cross and resurrection.

In Mathew, Jesus counts himself among our body of believers when he joins others seeking baptism from his cousin John. Scholars are sure this happened, that John was an inspiration to Jesus early on. What likely did not happen is the awkward moment in which John is reluctant, feeling unworthy to baptize Jesus. This was most probably added centuries later to address how or why a divine Son of God needed to receive the Holy Spirit or be washed clean of original sin.

Those of us who believe we are born into original blessing rather than original sin see no problem here….baptism is confirmation of God’s delight in us, a recognition that we are vessels of God’s Spirit before the water’s splash and ever after, and an acting out of our desire to join community and live in covenant. For us, Jesus seeks and affirms community when he seeks baptism. Jesus acknowledges the nourishing, quenching, blessing that water is in our lives.

The Mathew story includes the sky opening up and a hovering dove appearing. This most gentle of birds represents the same gentle Spirit that in Isaiah that will not break a bruised reed or quench a wavering flame. And the message from the banks of the Jordan River resounds like the gentle poetry of Isaiah and with what we know in our hearts --- We are God’s own. God’s favor flows as today’s water blessing says, like a hidden spring deep within us, carrying us to the shores of the sacred and fostering light in the darkness.

What did you hear in these readings and what will it mean for you to live accordingly? 

Communion Meditation is by Keith & Kristy Getty, Praise the Lord of Living Water (

Closing Prayer: Please raise your hands in blessing with a Celtic Prayer:

Deep peace of the running wave to you, of water flowing,
rising and falling,
sometimes advancing, sometimes receding…
May the stream of you life flow unimpeded!
Deep peace of the running wave to you. Amen.

Closing song: Let Justice Roll Like a River

No comments: