Did you hear that? Did you hear the voice from heaven say, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”? Even if you missed the message, you can see the Spirit sitting on his shoulder “like a dove.” It is nothing short of a coronation. Much as oil has anointed the heads of rulers and swords have tapped the shoulders of lords, the dove names the royalty of Jesus.

It’s not what we expected, but it is, after all, what we were told. The whole of salvation history reveals a God who works upside down and backward. The evidence is clear and consistent.

In spite of the evidence, we remain impressed by might and money, amazed by castles and land (or hotels and golf courses). Perhaps most disappointingly, we revere the rulers who flaunt these things and yearn to have them for ourselves. Selfish power.

We believe it has to be this way. If we show generosity, people will steal from us. If we show mercy, people will harm us. If we show kindness, people will harm us. Fearful power.

To guard against ruin and destruction, we keep more than we need. We amass more wealth than can be spent in four lifetimes. We build walls and fences to prevent others from sharing our fortune. Greedy power.

Contrary evidence kneels before us in prayer, the embodiment of all that the prophets have promised. Beginning with this coronation, the powerful One will demonstrate with the remainder of his life how very misguided we are. Follow him, listen to his stories, watch his actions, know the truth. Power made perfect in love is the only power worth having. Real power.

“Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world?” (Baptismal Covenant I, The United Methodist Book of Worship).

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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Lectionary Week
January 3–9, 2022
Scripture Overview

Water is an important theme throughout the Bible. The authors of scripture use water as an image of transition and sometimes challenge, and they tie it back to God’s renewing work. Isaiah records the divine promise that God will not abandon Israel, even if they pass through trying waters—a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians. The psalmist declares that God’s voice covers all the waters, so nothing can come against us that is beyond God’s reach. In Acts we see the connection between baptism—passing through the water—and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the inclusion of the Samaritans, a group considered unclean by many but not by God. We see clearly the connection between water baptism and the Spirit in the baptism of Jesus himself.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Isaiah presents an image of God’s favor that is at once particular and universal. How do you experience God’s love for you and for all persons as part of the body of Christ?
Read Psalm 29. God’s creation, in its wildness, incorporates destruction. In the face of disaster, how do you find a way to say, “Glory”?
Read Acts 8:14-17. Our baptism is in the name of Jesus and the name of the Spirit. To what wildness does the Spirit prompt you?
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Remember your baptism and listen for God’s call out into the wildness of the world.

Respond by posting a prayer.