Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Baptism of Our Lord
Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Today’s festival rejoices in God’s blessings. We recall and celebrate our adoption as God’s children, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the promised company of almighty God when we “pass through the waters … the rivers … fire.” On this day the heavens open again for this assembly, and we receive the gift of God’s Beloved, Jesus, in bread and wine.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who creates us,
and calls us by name.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
and your beloved children.
We have turned our faces away from your glory
when it did not appear as we expected.
We have rejected your word
when it made us confront ourselves.
We have failed to show hospitality
to those you called us to welcome.
Accept our repentance for the things we have done
and the things we have left undone.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.
Forgive us and lead us, that we may bathe
in the glory of your Son born among us,
and reflect your love for all creation.
Rejoice in this good news:
In ☩ Christ Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
You are descendants of the Most High,
adopted into the household of Christ,
and inheritors of eternal life.
Live as freed and forgiven children of God.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you anointed Jesus at his baptism with the Holy Spirit and revealed him as your beloved Son. Keep all who are born of water and the Spirit faithful in your service, that we may rejoice to be called children of God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7
Near the end of Israel’s exile in Babylon, God promises to bring the people home. They need no longer be afraid, because the one who formed, created, and called them by name now redeems them from all their enemies. God declares them precious and honored, and God loves them.
1But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
4Because you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you,
I give people in return for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
6I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
7everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Psalm: Psalm 29
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. (Ps. 29:3)
1Ascribe to the Lord, you gods,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due God’s name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
3The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
4The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;
the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.
5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
6the Lord makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the Lord
bursts forth in lightning flashes.
8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the Lord all are crying, “Glory!”
10The Lord sits enthroned above the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned asking forevermore.
11O Lord, give strength to your people;
give them, O Lord, the blessings of peace.
Second Reading: Acts 8:14-17
Peter and John are sent to support the new Christians in Samaria, a group that was recently baptized after hearing the good news of Christ through the preaching of Philip. Here the Samaritans receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in the laying on of hands.
14Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16(for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased.” Alleluia. (Matt. 3:17)
Gospel: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
The reading opens with questions about the identity of the Messiah. John the Baptist insists that he is not the Messiah; instead he points ahead to one who is coming. And whether the voice of God was heard by all or only by Jesus, God settles the matter: Jesus is God’s beloved Son.
15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
21Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
I have gone to plenty of meetings where they hand you a pen and a sticker that says “Hello, my name is…” and you are asked to fill in your name on the rest of the sticker then wear it throughout the rest of the day. In my experience, those stickers do not stick well to my clothing and they always end up curling up and falling off. The name badge stickers can be quite annoying, but they serve an important function. I am just horrible at names. I can be introduced to someone and during the course of the conversation with them, I’ll forget the name they just told me! I remember one time, when I was helping out at the church school while the rest of the adults were attending services, I had forgotten the name of this one little girl. She was upset about something and I was trying to comfort her and she asked me, “What do you care? You don’t even know my name”. Thirty years later, I still don’t remember that little girl’s name, but I do remember what she said to me. Of course, it’s not all as simple as that. We can care for someone without knowing their name. But being able to name a person does say something about our relationship with them. It tells the other person that we have more than just a passing knowledge of them. In my work as a parole officer, knowing the names of the offenders on my case load lets them know that I’m paying attention to who they are and what they are doing.
God knows our names, each and every one of them. As big as God is, and as small as we are, that’s really amazing. God declares in the first reading that He has called us by name and that we are His! Our first reading comes from a time when Israel was in exile. They had been conquered and had lost everything. There was no Temple, they had no king and Jerusalem, their holy city, was no longer theirs. Israel’s people had been carted off and dispersed throughout the conquering kingdom, to be assimilated into this culture, which was alien to them. The hope was that they would become like every other citizen and forget about their old ways and their identity. They wanted Israel to forget that they were God’s people. But God has other plans. Through Isaiah, He lets Israel know that He has not forgotten them and that He will continue to be with them, even in difficult times, as He has in the past. He also tells Israel that will bring them back together and reunite them as one people again. Given their circumstances at the time, that’s quite a promise.
God the Father makes a similar promise in today’s Gospel reading as well. He had told the Israelite’s in exile that, “I have called you by name. You are mine”, he tells Jesus, after His baptism, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” This was at the very beginning of Jesus public ministry, a journey that would eventually take Him to Jerusalem and His death upon a cross. Along the way, Jesus would preach the good news about the Kingdom of God and repentance, but He would also be tempted often to abandon His mission. The Father is telling the Son, as He starts out, to not forget who He is.
Our baptism could be looked upon in a similar fashion. We may not remember it, but when the baptismal water was poured over our heads and the words were spoken, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” it’s as if as if God is saying to us, “I have called you by name. You are mine.” Or perhaps “You are my beloved sons and daughters; with you I am well pleased.” Baptism marks us as being one of God’s own people. From that point forward, we belong to Christ. We are even given a new name, Christians. No one or nothing can take this name from us. When Isaiah tells the Jewish exiles not to fear because God has called them, by name and that they are His, we are also part of that promise.
So, in whatever you face, today, tomorrow, maybe even years in the future, fear not! God has named you! You are His! He will not forget you!
Prayers of Intercession
The Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us in abundance; so we are bold to pray for the church, the world, and all that God has made.
A brief silence.
By the Holy Spirit, you gather your church and send it out in mission to share the good news of Jesus. Inspire your faithful people, including Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all of us to be fervent in prayer and service, that all people know they are precious in God’s sight. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You reveal your love and power through water and the Spirit. Guard rivers, seas, and all bodies of water, especially the Great Lakes, which are such a blessing to this part of the world, from destruction and pollution. Secure access to clean water for all, and protect the land from drought and flood. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Establish among the nations the blessings of peace. Raise up leaders who will protect vulnerable people in their care. Strengthen advocates who risk reputation or retaliation for the sake of mercy and justice. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You protect us through the fires and troubled waters of this life. Assure us that we will not be cut off from you by illness or despair, anxiety or pain, confusion or weakness. Comfort all who are in need especially those whom we remember on our prayer list and prayer board. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
We are joined in baptism to Christ and to one another. Bless those who are newly baptized and those who are preparing for baptism. Help us to be faithful in fellowship, worship, evangelism, service, and justice-seeking. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
You created each of your saints for your glory. We give thanks for those you have called by name into your eternal embrace. Comfort us in grief and release us from fear. God of grace,
hear our prayer.
Since we have such great hope in your promises, O God, we lift these and all of our prayers to you in confidence and faith; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God, who leads you in pathways of righteousness,
who rejoices over you,
and who calls you by name,
☩ bless your going out and your coming in,
today and forever.
Go with Christ into a weary world.
Share the good news.
Thanks be to God.