Christmas Prayers and Reflections: 3 January (John 1.29-34)

Preparation

O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, sovereign God,
creator of heaven and earth,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your living Word, eternal in heaven,
assumed the frailty of our mortal flesh,
may the light of your love be born in us
to fill our hearts with joy as we sing:
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.

Reading: John 1.29-34 

John saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, “After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John testified, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.’ 

John 1.29-34 NRSV

Reflection 

John said: Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! … I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.

We do not know how long John’s ministry of preaching and baptizing in the wilderness had been going on before this moment in the gospel narrative. Whether it had been days, weeks or months is not really relevant because today we hear of the moment when his role as the forerunner of the Messiah is fulfilled. Today we hear of Jesus standing before John in person. Today we see the one of whom John said: I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal. Today we hear John’s testimony of seeing the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and [remaining] on him. Today we hear John’s intense joy of recognizing and acknowledging that he is in the presence of the one long foretold, the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

All who are baptized into the Christian faith have shared in this moment. Whether they made the commitment themselves, or whether the promises were made on their behalf by godparents, the commitment to live as one who recognizes the Jesus who baptizes with the Holy Spirit has been made. Water has been poured as a symbol of cleansing the sin that clings so close. The light of the risen Christ has been given to guide and to protect as the newly baptized person stepped out into the world that can be so dark. From that moment a new life came into being. A new Christian life entered this world. A new professing Christian came to the open door of opportunity and choice … the opportunity to share the light of Christ with others; the choice of honouring the promises made or turning one’s back on them.

John brought baptism with water, Jesus brought baptism into the life of the Holy Spirit. Our baptism rituals combine the two as water symbolically cleanses us, making us ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is for us to pray that we might never forget the great gift we have received, and to show how much it matters to us as we step out, like John, and play our part in sharing the guiding and protecting light of Christ with all we meet.

Prayers

To us a child is born, to us a son is given;
let us pray for the people he came to save.

Wonderful Counsellor,
you order all things with your wisdom:
help the Church to reveal the mystery of your love
and fill her with the Spirit of truth:
Lord, in your mercy 
hear our prayer.

Mighty God,
the government is on your shoulders:
guide the leaders of the nations
and bring in your kingdom of justice and righteousness: 
Lord, in your mercy 
hear our prayer.

Everlasting Father,
you call us to live together in unity:
protect by your mercy all your children,
bless our families and renew our communities: 
Lord, in your mercy 
hear our prayer.

Prince of Peace,
you bring reconciliation through the cross:
by your healing power give to all who suffer
your gift of wholeness and peace: 
Lord, in your mercy 
hear our prayer.

Let us commend the world, to which Christ came,
to the mercy and protection of God.

Lord Jesus Christ,
your birth at Bethlehem
draws us to kneel in wonder at heaven touching earth:
accept our heartfelt praise
as we worship you,
our Saviour and our eternal God.
Amen.

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Christ, who by his incarnation gathered into one
things earthly and heavenly,
fill us with peace and goodwill
and make us partakers of the divine nature;
and may the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
Amen.