Baptism of the Lord: You Are the Beloved in Whom I AM Well Pleased: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The holy day of lights, to which we have come and which we are celebrating today, has for its origin the baptism of my Christ, the true Light that lightens everyone coming into the world, and effects my purification…. It is a season of new birth: let us be born again! We duly celebrated at his birth – I, the one who presided at the feast, and you, and all that is in the world and above the world. With the star we ran, with the magi we worshiped, with the shepherds we were enlightened, with the angels we glorified him with Simeon we took him up in his arms, and with the chaste and aged Anna we made our responsive confession…. Now we come to another of Christ’s acts and another mystery…. The Spirit bears witness to his Godhead, for he descends upon one that is like him, as does the voice from heaven…. Let us venerate today the baptism of Christ.

– Gregory of Nazianzus c.329-389/390
(A Christmas Sourcebook, Liturgy Training Publications)

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • As you sit, allow this artwork to become part of you.
  • Where are you in the art?
  • What element is surrounding you? (air or water)
  • Allow this element to hold you, giving you a sense of lightness.
  • Take on what you need from this element.
  • Give to this element anything you need to be washed away.
  • Savor the lightness.
  • Hear the words from above, “With you, I am well pleased.”
  • What is God’s message for you?
  • Stay in the element as long as you like.
  • Then give thanks to the element for holding you, and feel the element gently leave your surround.
  • Breathe.
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below?

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, January 9, 2022, the Baptism of the Lord (Year C)

Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2022 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction certification, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

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