The Evangelical Feasts are those dates on the Church Calendar that observe and celebrate events in the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. From Palm Sunday on, we can be certain that our dates line up with the actual events, as they are so closely tied to the Jewish Passover festival. At this time of year, we settle for what the western church has agreed to do: celebrate the Nativity/Incarnation in late December, and then observe those Gospel accounts that roll out the "manifestation" (epiphany) of Jesus - first to Gentiles (the magi), then to Israel (as this week, by way of Jesus' baptism). We cannot know when the Father spoke, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," but we surely must not forget that the Father did so speak; and we should heed the words.
I will not be posting weekly through this Church Year, but will continue with the Evangelical Feasts (and, just because it is meaningful to me, Lent).
I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvatin may reach to the end of the earth.
I have found David, my servant;
with my holy oil I have anointed him,
so that my hand shall be established with him;
my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him;
the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,
and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”
Anthem Motet on Isaiah 42
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Almighty God, whose servant and prophet John the Baptis was a witness to the truth as the forerunner of the salvation wrought in your Son, lead us to bear witness to the same Jesus Christ, who is the eternal light and truth, and lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Gordon Giles, The Music of Praise, page 57
Hymn On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
awake and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings.
Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
make straight the way for God within,
prepare we in our hearts a home
where such a mighty Guest may come.
For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.
To heal the sick stretch out thine hand,
and bid the fallen sinner stand;
shine forth and let thy light restore
earth's own true loveliness once more.
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
whose advent doth thy people free;
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.
Words: Charles Coffin, 1736
trans. John Chandler, 1837
Music: Winchester New
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Collect for the Baptism of our Lord, The Book of Common Prayer, 1979