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Sunday Devotion: 12 January 2020, The Baptism of our Lord (First Sunday after Epiphany)

Sunday Devotions

Getting out of God’s way

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Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.

Main readings: Isaiah 42.1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10.34-43; Matthew 3.13-17

Supplementary readings: Psalm 111; Romans 6.1-11; Isaiah 42.10-16; Psalm 2; John 1.19-34

“I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matthew 3.14)

Early in my ministry, a young man came to me seeking baptism because: “he wanted to be made clean.” His brother was in jail for murder and he was worried that his shared genetics would lead him down the same path. I found myself in an awkward situation because I was reasonably confident that he was already baptised.

John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, of cleansing from sin. It was this that made John uncomfortable. He recognised in Jesus a goodness (godliness) that surpassed his own and he believed that the situation should be reversed – he should be baptised by Jesus. It is only when he was assured that Jesus’ baptism was part of God’s plan that he consented. In the end I baptised the young man. He was so distressed and so utterly convinced that nothing less would do.

There are many times in ministry when we are confronted with situations that do not fit the rules – un-Confirmed hands raised to receive communion and interesting choices of music for weddings or funerals. I may initially put up some resistance, but finally I see someone making a connection with the church – a connection that I do not wish to be responsible for breaking.

It is my belief that it is God, not I, who will resolve an issue (if there is one) and that it is not my place to stand in God’s way.

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