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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
January 8, 2005

This Sunday the baptism of our Lord is celebrated in the church calendar. This week I am providing some selections from Sunday's lectionary readings with no commentary for your prayerful consideration. -Bill Samuel

"Take a good look at my servant.
     I'm backing him to the hilt.
He's the one I chose,
     and I couldn't be more pleased with him.
I've bathed him with my Spirit, my life.
     He'll set everything right among the nations.
He won't call attention to what he does
     with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt
     and he won't disregard the small and insignificant,
     but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won't tire out and quit. He won't be stopped
     until he's finished his work - to set things right on earth.
Far-flung ocean islands
     wait expectantly for his teaching."

God's Message,
     the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
     laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth's people,
     makes them alive with his own life:
"I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
     I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
     and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
     opening blind eyes,
     releasing prisoners from dungeons,
     emptying the dark prisons.
I am God. That's my name.
     I don't franchise my glory,
     don't endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
     I'm announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene,
     I'm telling you all about it."
Isaiah 42:1-9 (Message*)

     Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, "I'm the one who needs to be baptized, not you!"
     But Jesus insisted. "Do it. God's work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism." So John did it.
     The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit - it looked like a dove - descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."
Matthew 3:13-17 (Message*)

     You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.
     And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him - he wasn't put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand - us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we're not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.
Acts 10:37-43 (Message*)

* The Message version ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

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Document last modified on Saturday, 15-Jan-2005 20:03:07 EST