When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins — to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace, to make music in the heart.

Call to worship

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. God calls Jesus his beloved Son. We, too, are beloved sons and daughters of God. Baptism identifies us as God’s own children.

  • To the point: After Jesus was “baptized in the Jordan by John,” he took up his saving mission as the “beloved Son.” We are baptized by water and the Spirit — beginning a life of turning from our thoughts and ways to God’s thoughts and ways (first reading), and becoming God’s children (second reading) and continuing Jesus’ ministry. Baptism is not so much what is done to us as what we do because of our new relationship with God and with each other.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Mark 1: 7-11) to the Christmas season: Our celebration of Christmas does not end with the infant Jesus but with the adult Jesus being baptized and beginning his saving mission. We who have been baptized with his Spirit take up his work of salvation during Ordinary Time, continuing his mission of bringing the Good News to others.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience and culture: We tend to think of baptism only as a ritual lasting a few moments. Actually, baptism is a daily immersion in the mission of Jesus; it requires lifelong commitment.

Centering prayers

The Gospel

(Mark 1: 7-11)

He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son;  with you I am well pleased.”

John baptized Jesus with water.
The Spirit broke through Earth’s boundaries,
rushed into the world of time,
and told our universe again
that God is with us.
Spirit, tear open the heavens.
Break through our set-in-stone boundaries,
and descend into the depths of our hearts.
Pour rivers of grace on all of us.

The First Reading

(Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7 or 55: 1-11)

“All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”

We spend money on foods that don’t satisfy.
We drink and we still thirst.
O God, you are the water
that quenches; the food that delights.
Help us all come to the water;
let us seek and find you.
Bless our thirst. Let us drink.

The Second Reading

(Acts 10: 34-38 or 1 John 5: 1-9)

“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.”

God, on the banks of the Jordan
you showed us again your loving plan:
your beloved Son for all people always.
Your love knows no bounds.
Help us lift all the
boundaries we place in your path.

Copyright © 2021, Anne M. Osdieck

For reflection