LITURGY CORNER

By Jim Murray

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

This feast puts a beautiful final note to the Christmastime season in the liturgical year. Next weekend we begin a stretch of Ordinary Time with the Second Sunday in the Church year. After which we begin our Lenten Springtime journey towards Easter. This feast is a fitting celebration to end the season because it moves us into the ministry and mission of our Lord. A ministry and mission that we all share in because of our Baptism.

In the Book of Common prayer we read, “Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan did proclaim 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.” Our mission now is to keep our baptismal promises that we have made to be of service to our brothers and sisters through our actions and through our giving. This feast moves us quickly from the beauty and serenity of the nativity scene toward the more challenging vision of our Lord’s baptism. We are asked to move in the direction of our life in Christ itself: from concern for intimacy with the child Jesus to concern for community.

A Christian parish becomes its best self when it accepts the challenges of what it means to be a COMMUNITY. The parish community, as the real expression of a local church, cannot limit its attention to the search for justice and intimacy among its own members, if it does not prepare itself to take up the cross, standing against evil and injustice wherever they exit in the world. And to take some action to prevent it from happening again. This may seem like a harsh message for the end of the Christmas season, but in fact it has been the church’s message at all times, and in all seasons. There is, ultimately, only one mystery Christian's celebrate: the paschal mystery, Jesus’ dying and rising in a new human community called “church.”

Let’s take time to celebrate the voice of the Holy Spirit. Because it is the voice of the Holy Spirit that bears witness. Here at the Jordan River all is in perfect harmony, for the testimony comes from heaven, just as he to whom the Spirit bears witness has come from heaven. That voice announces, “You are my beloved son. On you my favor rests.”