Jesus leaves his hometown of Nazareth in Galilee and journeys through Samaria down into the region where John is baptizing followers. Jesus, an outsider, presents himself to be baptized by John—a process and procedure Jesus no doubt neither needed nor was required to complete. Nevertheless, Jesus experiences baptism like you and I do, and with a similar result—a new life devoted to following God. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ active ministry begins only after he is baptized.
Jesus’ decision to be baptized seemingly signals a new direction in his life. The heavens are torn apart as God confirms that true power exists in a posture of vulnerable humility and a life devoted to following God. Mark invites us, unlike the characters in his Gospel, to hear the words that affirm Jesus’ decision: “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” God confirms that to follow we do not use power to manipulate; but by defying expectations, we are transformed into new life.
In baptism, God removes our sin and makes us one with God. Jesus models baptism for us, and every act of baptism lives into Jesus’ story—God claims each of us as God’s beloved child.
This is indeed good news. God empowers us to do God’s will not because we are powerful but because we are followers. Willingness to be transformed by God makes us not susceptible but secure. Truly this is the new kingdom into which we are integrated through Jesus Christ in our own baptism.

Eternal God, make us vulnerable and willing to begin again so that we may love and forgive ourselves and others as you make each of us new though Christ. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 1:9-15

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Lectionary Week
February 12–18, 2018
Scripture Overview

The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 9:8-17. When in loss have you experienced a new beginning?
• Read Psalm 25:1-10. How do you remind yourself of your covenant with God?
• Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you given up privilege in order to work for justice?
• Read Mark 1:9-15. When did you last hear God speak these words to you: "You are my . . . beloved; with you I am well pleased"?

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