Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Is 49:3, 5-6;Cor 1:1-3; John 1:29-34
We are called today to be “light to the nations” — as Jesus was. This passage is perfect for a day when we are about to baptize a baby. For Christ takes away the sin of the world.
All of us in this church are sinful and all of us are graced. Certainly. Is there evil in the world? Certainly. Are you and I capable of evil? Certainly. It may sound like language from the Baltimore Catechism, but it’s true.
When we see horrendous acts erupt in our world, we are shocked. We feel powerless to prevent such things. Are we powerless? Yes and no. Evil exists. But we don’t have to cooperate with it. Peace begins with each of us—as the hymn says. We can act peacefully. This weekend we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr advocating non-violence and peace. Behavior therapy posits: behavior teaches feeling. For example, relaxation exercises make a person feel relaxed. Act peacefully and you will feel peaceful. How do we teach our children? We teach them by example, by our own behavior. Deuteronomy says: “Teach this to your children and to your children’s children.” Let’s look at email as just one example. It is easy to compose a message and press the send button. We don’t see the person at the receiving end. Do we think of how the person at the other end may be receiving our message? Email does not convey tone of voice or facial expression. That’s why emogees were invented! If we teach this to our children, then we will be “made glorious in the sight of the Lord” as Isaiah says today.
“How we treat each other is entirely up to us.” Ephesians says: “Never let evil talk pass your lips, say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them ….Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, harsh words and slander, malice of every kind. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God has forgiven you in Christ”(4:29-32).
We are called to be light to the nations. Yet we are limited, fragile people who fail, who “sin.” When we fail, Christ’s sacrifice forgives us. We hear today that we have been “sanctified in Christ Jesus”; that Christ is “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” If we don’t believe this, what else do we have? With Peter we say, “Lord, to whom can we go”? We must believe this. Our very lives depend on it. I have staked my life on it. How about you?
We now baptize this child—in Christ’s baptism with the Holy Spirit who will take away the ‘original’ sin of the world.
Collect to Universal Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Light to the nations, warm us with your light in the midst of winter, restrain us from every evil impulse, guard our thoughts, words and actions, and make us pleasing in your sight this day. Cleanse us from our sins and fill us with the consolation of your Holy Spirit. We pray this prayer through the power of your name, Jesus, Lord, forever and ever.