On Sunday January 8th Rev Gillian Robertson led worship at Wesley Chapel. Psalm 117 was the call to worship. We sang ‘Now thank we all our God,’ as the opening hymn. Gillian led the opening prayers of thanksgiving, praise and the Lord’s Prayer. We sang ‘Come let us anew our journey pursue’ before John read Isaiah 42.1-9; Shelagh read Acts 10.34-43 and Ulrike read Matthew 3.13-17.
Gillian preached on the Baptism of Jesus. She explained how the lectionary flits around the Bible except for Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. John had been active for some time telling the Jews to repent for the kingdom of heaven was near. The Jews were called to confess the sins and be baptised in response. Once they had confessed their sins they were baptised in the River Jordan. It was not necessary to go to the priest to confess the sins to God; they could confess their sins to someone else. It is important to produce the fruit of repentance, shown in action, as the kingdom of God is near. Jews had been waiting for the Messiah to come for hundreds of years. Jerusalem would be the capital and the Jews would be the top dog for once. If the whole of Israel could repent properly then one day the Messiah would come. John baptised with water for repentance, the one to come would baptise with the Holy Spirit, power and fire. Jesus came to bring baptism with the Holy Spirit and power. The time was right for Jesus to be baptised by John, but John tried to deter him, as Jesus had no need to confess sins; however Jesus insisted that John had to baptise him to fulfil all righteousness. Baptism is an outward ritual demonstrating an inner reality. Jesus completed his identification with humanity and its limitations. He identified with the ordinary people not with the Pharisees or Sadducees. John had warned of the coming judgment for the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Baptism anticipated the cross as Jesus went under water like dying on the cross and rose to new life. It signified the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. God’s voice reassured John and Jesus about who Jesus was, when the dove alighted on him. John gave the testimony of seeing the spirit come down on Jesus. The Trinity Father spoke from heaven to the Son when the Spirit descended in the physical form of a dove. Jesus offered new life to all who come to seek him with recognition of sin and repentance with the baptism of fire of the Holy Spirit.
We sang, ‘When Jesus came to Jordan’ before our worship leader led the prayers of confession and intercession. Worship’ concluded when we sang, ‘Called by Christ to be disciples..