Friday, December 29, 2017

The Baptism of the Lord (B), January 7, 2018 - Genesis 1:1-5 and Mark 1:4-11

(Be sure to page down for the poem on Mark 1.)

 Genesis 1:1-5

And God Saw

When, out of chaos, God called light
And saw that it was good,
The writers of this text are clear
What must be understood
Is not that God knew all along
Just how that light would shine;
But rather, to create from scratch -
To try! - marks the divine.
This is the thing that makes God, God,
Who makes all things anew;
As New Years, like some holy writ,
In joy, makes its debut.

Scott L. Barton

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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Mark 1:4-11

The Turning Season

It's not a repentance sandwich!
I know; it seems to be.
Two weeks before the birth of Christ
We heard from John the B.
And now it's two weeks on, and he
Appears around the bend;
Good God! With Christmas, didn't such things
Meet their joyful end?

But Jesus, now grown up, just smiles,
And to the water walks
To show that we've abused this word
With our religious talk;
It's not that you've been bad, and must
Be good, for goodness' sake,
But, like him, can you pride and fear
And ego finally shake?

Repentance, I am glad to say,
Is never the end game,
God doesn't groove on all our sin,
Our failures or our shame.
Inside us all, our essence is
The grace by which we live,
Such grace, the Spirit still proclaims,
Such grace, this voice still gives.

Scott L. Barton
[Slightly revised from 2015. I got some good ideas and even phrases for this poem from a sermon by my good friend and one of the best preachers I know, the Rev. Sarah Buteux. You can find the sermon here:

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

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