Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit/wind moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.
Out of the nothingness of the dark void, God brought forth the light and began the world of days, of nights, of seasons. It was the dawn of time, and the intricate and wonderful world of living things that was to follow. It was the time for His creative Word to move about, to speak to a universe of chaos and bring order, beauty and harmony. It was a time when God said, “let it be so, and it was.” It was a time for the breath of God to be instilled in all that was bringing forth life, purpose and meaning. And so it was – in the beginning. And it was declared to be good. But it did not remain so. And so might begin a novel of mystery, intrigue and suspense with characters appearing, playing out their roles and then melding into the pages of history. But it is not. It is God’s story of the beginning.
God’s story did have a great beginning filling us with awe and wonder. But darkness again filled the scene when sin entered and the world knew greed, selfishness, envy and the power of temptations. The world once again knew disorder as it became divided by hostilities rooted in greed, religious intolerance, and racial and cultural prejudices in all it ugly ways of violence erupting in terrorism, war, and cruelty to fellow beings. It was as if darkness covered the earth once again keeping God’s created people from seeing His purpose. It was the story then as it is the story now.
Once again God acted and into the dark void of our sinful world God brought the light of salvation and made of us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ) It is in our baptism that we are re-created and given a new life one in which we are called His. Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit/sensed as the wind moved over the waters. Baptism is our Genesis, our beginning. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on a new path with a new mission to continue Jesus’ mission of re-creating the world in the image of God’s vision.
And God said, “Let it be so, and it was.” It was a time for the breath of God to be instilled in all that would be called His. Indeed it would be a life of purpose and meaning. And so it was – in the beginning. And it was declared to be good. But it did not remain so.
Divided as we were by sin among ourselves, we also became divided within ourselves by the contradictory and conflicting impulses that signal the lingering of sin. As God’s creation brought order from chaos and a harmonious world, so God brought redemption with the light Jesus gave to His Word leading us into the ways that make for harmony among us and peace within. God breathed His word into us as the waters poured over us and His Spirit was forever instilled within us giving birth to all that is Godly within us enabling us to shed the light of hope and promise of salvation that is ours to come. That is God’s gift of our creation.
It is the same Spirit that was present at creation giving purpose and direction. It was again present at Christ’s baptism as the creative, rushing Spirit of God poured forth giving meaning, purpose and mission to Jesus, sweeping the world forward toward a messianic era of cosmic renewal. How awesome! How awesome to know the God who has the power to do all this, to take us and recreate us and call us His own.
If we can take even a piece of that awesomeness and wrap ourselves around it as we read todays lessons the initial words of Genesis 1 that evoke our worst nightmares melt away with the hope that comes in the epiphany of who this Jesus is and what He has done as the Savior sent by His Father to be not just one among us but also one within us.
Creation began in a “darkness that covered the face of the deep.”
In the midst of such darkness, God calls forth light (v. 3). How appropriate for the First Sunday after the Epiphany. At this time of year, the church celebrates God’s will to flood the entire world with the illuminating light of His Word. We praise God for His life-giving light that changes us, recreates us into living, vibrant people. By the grace of God’s word we experience ourselves not as an isolated being but one interconnected in many ways with others who come together empowered to worship our creator visibly and publicly.
God takes hold of us and fashions us, simply and radically, into a new creation. God’s voice alone is all it takes to transform chaos. Beauty and order flow with ease from God’s verbal command. The waters of baptism are about this creation experience.
Are we willing to let go of all that is primordial within us and be open to being spiritually reborn?
The Ephesians with whom Paul was interacting were not aware that God’s new creation was upon them. They were disciples of John the Baptist, uninformed that John’s promise of a new age of the Spirit was now realized. No one had told them the Spirit is now “manifest, present, given, or poured out” (v. 2).3 Notice how eager to embrace the Spirit these Ephesians were once they heard the good news from Paul. On hearing the news, they immediately accepted baptism and received God’s enlivening breath deep down inside. Are we today as enthusiastic about getting on with the new life that is now wrought by God upon the world?
One week into the new year, Lord, we thank you for walking with us through all time and eternity.
Happy New Year! As we worship God together, let us pray for a fruitful year of ministry to the glory of his name.
Happy Anniversary to Jim and Nancy Smith, married on January 8th.
Trinity’s ladies will meet Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for Bible study and regular monthly meeting.
Council meets next week immediately following worship.
Due to weather conditions the service was sort of impromptu. We appreciate Pastor and Karen for making the trip down here from Rolla.