In the Lectionary

January 12, Baptism of the Lord (Matthew 3:13–17)

Jesus knows he’s part of a history, a people’s longing and dreams.

Shortly after our twins’ birth we moved half­way across the country for my husband, Andy, to begin his call as senior pastor to a church in Bloomington, Indiana. A few months after the move we had the twins baptized in his church—a particularly special day, as both sets of grandparents came to be with us. Both grandfathers are, like us, ordained Presbyterian ministers, and each baptized a baby.

The moment my father began to speak, I was startled by the realization that I had never witnessed a baptism in Korean. Even though only a few of us in the congregation could completely understand the words, there was something poignant in the power and beauty of the liturgy spoken in his mother tongue. When I looked around the sanctuary I saw the presence of the body of Christ, even though the congregation that surrounded us was new. I saw the tears on my face reflected on their faces—we all felt the mysterious connection to the larger community of Christ through baptism in that moment.

While baptism represents many things, for some Christians it is first and foremost a reminder that we are God’s beloved. This is rooted in Jesus’ baptism in the river Jordan, which clearly marks the beginning of his ministry. The story gives us a dramatic glimpse of the inauguration of this new kingdom that Jesus will work to reveal through his teachings and miracles. At the Jordan, Jesus is a new Joshua who will begin his prophetic ministry to Israel and to the world, leading them to the promised land.