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Epiphany 1, Yr A, 1.9.2011
(Baptism of Christ)
Isa 42.1-9: Servant song
Ps 29: God’s mighty works by voice, ending w. ‘strength to his people...blessing of peace’
Acts 10.34-43: ‘all the prophets testify about him’
Mt 3.13-17: ‘proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness’ –almost as if apologetic for Mark’s account (603)
Heavenly Father, at the
(What Jesus reveals of God is, quite simply, love)
preached on the baptism of Jesus on this Sunday last year, so I’ll take a
different tack this time.
My guess is that many of you will probably have watched the four
half-hour episodes of The Nativity on BBC One in the four evenings
leading up to Christmas. Tatiana
Masiany, the young Canadian actress who played Mary, has said of the production
that “It isn’t so much about the belief in God but the belief in enduring
love.” This morning I would like
to argue that at their deepest level the two, belief in God and belief in
enduring love, are identical, and they lead to the Father, the Son and the Holy
Real love is not abstract, for love is deeply personal and interpersonal.
In 1 John the author has reached the almost inexpressible realisation
that ‘God is love’. And,
biblically speaking, there is no deeper relationship than that between father
and son, which is why the relationship between God and
In Matthew, Mark and Luke the story of Jesus’ baptism at the hands of
John is one of the very few passages in the NT where we find Father, Son and
Holy Spirit mentioned together, with ‘Father’ by implication since Jesus is
addressed as Son.
Let me tell you what Father, Son and Holy Spirit mean biblically.
Let’s start with ‘Father’ and ‘Son’.
In Exodus 4.22-23 God tells Moses the following:
you shall say to Pharaoh, "Thus says
When we look at ‘Spirit’, the word ruach in Hebrew and its
equivalent pneuma in Greek mean both ‘spirit’ amd ‘wind’.
This is why we get the double meaning in John’s Gospel when Jesus is
presented as saying’the wind blows where it will’ in a context where Jesus
has been speaking of the Spirit. And
when we look at how the Spirit of God is used in the OT, it always indicates God’s powerful presence or his present power that conveys and carries out his
So, when we look at what Jesus reveals of God, it is, quite simply, love,
agape in Greek. So, the
essence of Jesus is love, the essence of the Father is love, the essence of the
Spirit is love.
Indeed, what we sang at Christmas is the core of what we know in our hearts,
namely, ‘Love came down at Christmas’