January 3 – January 9, 2017

WORD

13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by John.  14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he consented.  16And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Reflection: And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

In the picture above can you spot the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove?  Look carefully at Jesus’s head as John baptizes him.  Crowning Jesus’s head is a circle of red and white surrounded by a thin layer of blue.  Four white elliptical shapes forms a swooping cross-like figure.  This figure is surrounded in red, the flaming color associated with the Holy Spirit.  The thin band of blue that surrounds this figure connects it with the waters of baptism.

We are born anew in baptism through both the water and the Spirit.  We are cleansed in the waters of Jesus Christ, buried beneath them as we die to ourselves, and then are reborn in the watery womb of grace.  We are also brought alive in the Spirit, purified in the divine fire, and anointed with power from on high to live a life of faithfulness and purity.

How is the Holy Spirit alighting on you today?  How has the Holy Spirit been moving within your life from the moment of your baptism until now?  How might God want to open the heavens to you today?  Remember that you are baptized in both water and the Spirit and be made new in God’s loving grace.

Daily Readings: 

  • Tuesday, January 3 – 2 Samuel 6
  • Wednesday, January 4 – 2 Samuel 7
  • Thursday, January 5 – 2 Samuel 8
  • Friday, January 6 – 2 Samuel 9
  • Saturday, January 7 – 2 Samuel 10
  • Sunday, January 8 – 2 Samuel 11
  • Monday, January 9 –  2 Samuel 12

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Do you imagine God primarily as a loving Father?  This is how God wants us to think of God.  Yet, so many of us have lived suffering under a different view of God – one of a cruel taskmaster, or a strict bookkeeper of mistakes, or a busy, distant, uninterested ruler.  Some have simply dismissed God and God’s very existence rather than deal with their unhealthy images of God.  Pray for those who struggle with God’s image.  Ask God to reveal Godself in love, grace, and mercy to them.  As you pray, consider how you portray God to others through your words, attitudes, and actions.  Show the world the love of God so that they might know that they, too, are beloved.

Meditation Focus: Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by John.

Remember your baptism!  We repeat this statement when we celebrate baptisms in our local churches.  Yet many of us were baptized as infants or as small children and we cannot actually remember the event.  However, we do not simply mean recall your baptism, but more importantly to remember that you are baptized and what difference being baptized makes.  So even if you cannot recall the actual event, take time this week to think about the significance of your baptism.  How has God worked the grace of baptism into your life through all the years following the act of baptism?  How will your baptism affect the way you will live today?  Remember your baptism.  Own its importance.  Connect with the grace of baptism today.

Journaling Focus: John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”  Then he consented. 

Why was it necessary for Jesus, the one without sin, to be baptized?  What is it that actually happens in baptism?  Why do we even do it?  Imagine how John must have felt as Jesus approached him for baptism.  By his response to Jesus, it seems as though John felt inadequate.  Who could blame him?  Why do you think Jesus insisted?  What about Jesus’s answer convinced John?  Why should we continue to baptize and be baptized today?  What does Jesus’s baptism mean for you?  Baptism brings with it a lot of questions.  Seek the one who gives insight, the one who was washed in the waters two thousand years ago by John, and write your impressions both of this exchange and the practice of baptism itself.

Breath Prayer: Father, wash us in Christ.

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