Baptism of Christ, Year B

Musical Reflection
Deep Water by Portishead



God of the tearing heaven,
whose holiness is unveiled
by one who is submerged
in all the pain and sin of earth:
give us faith to follow him
who goes to the heart of darkness
bearing only the Spirit
of gentle, insistent peace;
through Jesus Christ, the promised one.

First Reading
The Wild Iris
by Louise Glück
At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

Second Reading
A Glass of Water

by May Sarton

Here is a glass of water from my well.
It tastes of rock and root and earth and rain;
It is the best I have, my only spell,
And it is cold, and better than champagne.
Perhaps someone will pass this house one day
To drink, and be restored, and go his way,
Someone in dark confusion as I was
When I drank down cold water in a glass,
Drank a transparent health to keep me sane,
After the bitter mood had gone again.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:4-11

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Child, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

Musical Reflection
Just Like Water by Lauryn Hill


Franciscan Blessing, adapted

May you bless us with anger,
at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people,
so that we may work for
justice, freedom and peace.

May you bless us with tears,
to shed for those who suffer pain,
rejection, hunger and war,
so that we may reach out our hands
to comfort them and
to turn their pain to joy.

And may you bless us with enough foolishness
to believe that we can
make a difference in the world,
so that we can do
what some claim cannot be done
to bring justice and kindness
to all our children and the poor.

The Lord’s Prayer

our Father and Mother,
in whom is heaven,
hallowed be your name,
followed be your royal way,
done be your will and rule,
throughout the whole creation.
With the bread we need for today,
feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test,
strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure,
spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil,
free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
Now and forever.

Musical Reflection
Bridge Over Troubled Water by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple


May Christ, who draws the nations to himself,
teach us to love our enemies;
may Christ, who enters the water of baptism,
lead us to die to all but love;
may Christ, who gives new wine for the world,
turn our bitterness into joy;
and the blessing of God,
the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.



Artwork by Katsushika Hokusai

Invocation and Blessing from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare

Musical Reflection Deep Water by Portishead

Poem The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

Poem A Glass of Water by May Sarton

Musical Reflection Just Like Water by Lauryn Hill

Franciscan Blessing Prayer

Lord’s Prayer from Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change

Musical Reflection A Bridge Over Troubled Water by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple

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