Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Baptism of the Lord, Year B

Readings for Baptism of the Lord Sunday, 1/11/15:
Genesis 1:1-5, Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7, Mark 1:4-11

Genesis 1:1-5:

  • "In the beginning," so starts the word of God. What a great beginning. I believe that science and faith can go hand in hand. I believe that evolution doesn't have to contradict our believe in God as creator. This said, I can't ask for a better description of creation than the poetic opening of Genesis.
  • Also compare Genesis 1 with John 1 - John clearly tries to align himself with this style of writing, showing Christ's presence even at creation.
  • "wind from God swept over the face of the waters" - how would you draw this - visually represent it?
  • Note that here on the first day, and throughout creation, God declares things as "good." Creation is good.

  • Psalm 29
  • "The Voice of the Lord" - I guess I've never noticed this psalm before, which speaks primarily of God's voice.
  • It is also visualizing God creating or in relation to a strong and powerful thunderstorm, which may be based on a psalm to the Caananite god, Baal (see Chris Haslam's comments on this) God over the waters, God's glory thundering, breaking the cedars, flashes forth flames of fire, "the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness." What can we do with these images? Can we use our imagination to read the scriptures? Certainly this psalmist used imagination to create this imagery, to make God's voice come alive.
  • What imagery would you use to describe/envision God's voice in your life? I like the process theology metaphor of God's lure, God slowly luring me with God's voice until slowly, step by step, I followed.

  • Acts 19:1-7:
  • This passage represents a fulfilling of John the Baptist's words in our text from Mark today. John the Baptist says that he baptizes with water, but the coming baptism will be of the Holy Spirit. Paul happens upon folks who have been baptized by John, and he urges them to take this "Holy Spirit" baptism.
  • Paul and Mark both indicate that John's baptism is a baptism of repentance/confession/forgiveness. So how would you characterize the baptism of the Holy Spirit? As a baptism of grace? Do you think today that different denominations characterize the meaning of baptism differently like this? Some viewing it as a baptism of repentance, others as a baptism of grace? What do you think?
  • "spoke in tongues and prophesied" - what did they say? I always want more details, more information, more specifics.

  • Mark 1:4-11
  • John sees himself as facilitating Jesus' ministry - preparing people for it. His role is so important, isn't it? Do you know of people who play this kind of supporting role in ministry today?
  • Make sure you compare Mark's recording of this scene (remember Mark is the earliest gospel written) with the accounts in the other gospels. In Mark, God speaks directly to Jesus: You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased. Other accounts have God saying This is my Son. I prefer Mark's recording - God speaking directly to God's child.
  • We might all wish for the heavens to part and for a dove to descend and for God to declare in front of all that we are pleasing and beloved in God's sight, but it doesn't usually work quite that way for us. How does it work for us? How can we know God loves us? What are the markers and milestones in our lives and ministries? How can we play John to someone, preparing them, providing a space for them to begin their calling?
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