Malankara World Journal Issue 46 (Jan 5, 2012) is available online
- The Malankara World Journal Issue 46 (January 5, 2012) is now available online at:
Selections from This week's Malankara World Journal
1. Editor's Note
Those who follow the church calendar will find that this is a very busy theological period for the church. After the incarnation of the savior on Christmas Day, and the circumcision/presentation at the temple, this week, we have the baptism of Jesus. Jesus is already an adult; went through the temptation after his 40-day lent and emerged successfully against Satan. Soon, John the Baptist will move away from the scene with his beheading on Saturday. Next week we will read about Jesus assembling his team of disciples. So, things are on a fast track. As an Ohio Newspaper says, miss a week, and we will miss a lot.
"The baptism of Jesus Christ's theophany has played a central role in the spiritual tradition of the church from its very beginning. It officially ends the Church Christmas Season.
"In Jesus' baptism, the miracle of creation "in the beginning" becomes incarnate with the descent of the spirit onto the Word standing amidst the watery chaos, thus affirming what we are so prone to forget, or deny: that this world in which we live is good. This singular ritual is, in fact, a very concrete announcement of a new creation in which the Word become flesh has already begun to draw the "astonishing emptiness" of a world broken by sin into his own fullness of being."
- Daniel G. Deffenbaugh Hastings, Associate Professor of Religion at Hastings College, Nebraska
Since Jesus was sinless, the question is often asked why He underwent baptism. There are several possible explanations.
Jesus was very particular that all Mosaic laws/commandments must be observed. So, before he started his public ministry, Jesus wanted to complete the Jewish rituals.
Jewish religious tradition dictated that every Jew must go through some ritual actions in order to be right with God. Jesus has undergone Circumcision (Lk 2:21); Presentation to the Temple (Luke 2:22-23) and Baptism (Mt 3:13-17) - all required under Jewish tradition.
For Jews, baptism had a different meaning than we associate it with. For example, baptism might be administered for the purposes of cleansing or to be right with God or to show belief in God or as a sign of repentance or as a requirement for membership into Judaism, etc. Jesus may have received baptism to identify with Judaism so as to be accepted when he begins to minister to the Jews as one who professes the same Religion with them.
John who baptized Jesus, baptized people for repentance (Matt 3:11), but Jesus was like us in all things except sin (Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15; Rom 8:3). Thus Jesus did not need baptism for repentance but accepted it to fulfill all righteousness involved in becoming right with God (Matt 3:14-15).
In a broader sense, we undergo baptism today, to become right with God, to be born into the family of God, we receive Christian Baptism and the grace of son-ship.
Bishop Stephen Blaire, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Stockton describes the Church's view of Jesus' baptism thus:
"The Baptism of Jesus is of great significance to the Church and to the manifestation of Christ to the world. Jesus, of his own free choice, goes down into the waters to be baptized by a most reluctant baptizer.
'I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?' John said to Jesus.
'Allow it,' Jesus responded.
The Church interprets the baptism of Jesus as God through Jesus entering into the sinful condition of humanity. In Christ, God has become one of us. When Jesus came out of the waters He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descending upon Him like a dove. A voice proclaimed: 'This is my beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.' We have here a theophany or revelation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus by entering the waters of the Jordan consecrated all the waters that would flow over the heads of those who would be baptized into Christ. As Jesus emerged from the waters as the 'Beloved Son of God,' so would all those who would be baptized into Christ in the Church emerge from the waters by the grace of adoption as the 'beloved sons and daughters of God.'"
Bishop Stephen Blaire, Homily, Baptism of the Lord, 2011
Fr. Andrew, perhaps, explains it best:
"Today's Feast proves to the world that Christ is both God and man, that He has two natures. On the one hand, the Father calls Him 'My beloved Son' and the Spirit bears witness. On the other hand, as St John the Baptist shows in his humility that he is unworthy even to undo Christ's shoelaces, the sinless human nature of Christ did not need baptism. Christ underwent baptism in his human nature only because He needed to set us an example, to undergo all that we must undergo in order to be worthy of the Kingdom of God. Christ was indeed human flesh and blood - you cannot baptize a spirit or a ghost - Christ truly took on Himself our human nature." - Fr. Andrew
Obviously, this is an extremely complex theological question that we cannot cover in a short introduction. Malankara World has several sermons, Gospel analyses and commentaries that go over different aspects of this complex subject. You can find them here:
I would like to provide an excerpt below from an article by Sharron R. Blezard. It will give an appreciation for the union of water, word and Spirit in Christianity:
"One of the wonderful things about Mark's gospel is that the evangelist gets right to what is important, omitting all fluff and extraneous detail. In less than a chapter we're at the Jordan for a holy collision of water, Word, and Spirit. In just a few short verses Jesus will submit to the baptism of the cousin/evangelist "unfit to tie the thong of his sandals" and will receive the heavenly stamp of approval in a dramatic scene involving heavens rent asunder and a dive bombing bird (aka Holy Spirit). Forget the delicate hovering dove and placid savior; this is intense drama that's going to move along faster than a Clint Eastwood blockbuster. Have you ever had a gull swoop down on you at the beach? Do you know what it is like to feel the rush of wings at your ear?
Today, we celebrate this holy collision of water, Word, and Spirit. In celebrating the baptism of our Lord, we also remember our own baptism, our incorporation into the family of God, and into this wonderful, countercultural, dangerous discipleship journey. By water and Word, God named and claimed us and gave us the gift of the Spirit. Nothing should ever be the same again; if it is, if the world is too much with you and you are distracted by worries and concerns then trouble those waters, my friend. Stir it up and remember whose you truly are. Let the grace and the wonder and the expectation wash over you again and again.
From the waters of creation to the waters of the flood, from the Red Sea to the Jordan River, and from the water of Baptism that quenches sin for all eternity to the water that slakes human thirst each day, this elemental substance is both mighty and mercifulthe power to destroy and to ensure life. Water, Word, and Spirit are powerful images for this day. See, feel, and taste that the Lord Jesus Christ is near. Yes, Jesus is wherever we gather as a worshiping community, whenever we call on his name, and in, under, and through simple gifts of bread and wine."
Sharron R. Blezard: 'Holy Collision! Baptism of our Lord'
This Week in Church
2. Bible Readings for This Sunday
Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ (6th Jan)
St. Mark 1:1-11
St. Matthew 3:1-17
Before Holy Qurbana
Genesis 24:10 -20
II Kings 3:19 -25
Acts 19:1 -7
Titus 2:11- 3: 9
St. Luke 3:7-22
Blessing of the Water
St. John 4:1-42
1st Sunday after Baptism of our Lord (8th Jan)
St. Mark 1:14-34
St. John 1:18-28
Before Holy Qurbana
Genesis 25:19-34, 30:36-31
II Kings 5:1-14
Isaiah 49: 7-13
Ephesians 1: 3-14
St. Matthew 4:12-22
more at: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWNews_46.htm#Bible_Readings
3. Sermons for This Sunday
Sermons, bible commentaries, Gospel Analyses, etc. for this week's church services can be found at:
Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Denaha (the Baptism of Jesus Christ)
Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 1st Sunday after Denaha (Baptism of our Lord)
more sermon selections at http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWNews_46.htm#Sermons
4. Inspiration for Today
"It is not always easy to recognize Christ. He comes in unexpected ways, ways you and I are not prepared for. If you were living in Palestine at Christs first coming, and some prophet told you the Messiah would be coming soon, would you have looked for a baby wrapped in straw? Would you have looked for him on a cross? Would you have expected him to come to you looking like bread, tasting like bread?" - Walter J. Burghart, SJ
"The call to repent challenges us to grow in our faith so we will not be so self absorbed that we fail to see Christ in our lives or the lives of others. Much of the transforming power of our faith is lost when we have grown too comfortable with it. We must hear again and again the call to be faithful, to correct our course through life to go the way that God would have us to go. A religion void of moral and ethical living is just that--void. Our faith must be connected by our manner of living in the every day world." - Rev. Dr. Wiley Stephens
5. A Relationship Changed by Baptism
Let us pretend that you are a young lieutenant, part of the military, part of a presidential honor guard. Every day the President walks into his office, and you snap to attention, click your heals and salute the President. The President nods. Every day, this same procedure occurs. The President walks in; you snap to attention, click your heals and salute. The relationship is stiff, formal, technical, with eyes never looking the President in the eye but eyes always straight ahead, frozen like a stiff wooden soldier. But in this story one day, the President stops in front of you, the young lieutenant, and says to you. "Please follow me into my office." You do so and the door is closed. The President orders you to be seated and then looks you in the eye and says, "I want you to become one of my children. I want you to become part of our family. I want you to come to our family outings, our family picnics, the family birthday parties, the family Christmases. I want you to become part of our family." What a moment. What a miracle. And in that moment, the relationship between the President and the young lieutenant is totally transformed. The relationship is no longer formal, stiff, distant and legal but is now close and loving.
That is precisely what happens to us in our baptism. It is God who takes the initiative. The relationship is totally transformed. Baptism is the fantastic invitation from God to know us intimately and closely, so closely that we are called son or daughter, that we become family. (Edward F. Markquart: Baptism? What Do We Teach?)
Summary of Other Articles in This Week's Malankara World Journal (Issue 46)
Featured This Week: The Day God Became a Baby
The 6-year-old kids in their Sunday School class were re-enacting the story of the birth of Jesus. The teacher wanted them to stage it themselves based on their own made-up script, so it was certainly interesting. They had three Marys, two Josephs, six shepherds, two wise guys and one boy who played the cow. Another boy decided he would be the doctor who would deliver the baby. The teacher consented, so the little doctor went back behind the manger, picked up the doll and carefully wrapped it in a blanket. Then with a big smile on his face, he turned to the Marys and the Josephs and said, "Congratulations, it's a God!"
That little boy had a better grasp of the incarnation than many people much older. The birth of Jesus was an amazing experience of God taking on human form.
You've heard Christmas sermons all your life, and there is so much we could find in this text; but today we will look at only two topics. First, the miracles Mary pondered; second, the message God proclaimed.
The Miracles Mary Pondered
It is obvious Luke conducted a personal interview with Mary many years later. How else would he have been able to write what he did in verse 19? It says, "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Mary experienced so many miracles that night that she had to store them in her heart as precious treasures.
The word pondered is a Greek word that Aristotle used frequently; it is a word which meant "to throw together; to constantly rethink and evaluate even the tiniest details" of an experience. What were these things she pondered? When we look at what took place that night, there were actually three miraculous journeys. Each of these three journeys came to a conclusion that night, and they all arrived at the same place in Bethlehem. First, there was: .. Read the rest of the article in MalankaraWorld. It is a must read article in our opinion (including two stories at the end.) http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Seasonal/Christmas/Christmas_day-god-became-a-baby.htm
The End of This Year
"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God," Revelation 3:2.
As we think about how the world has just celebrated the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are coming to the threshold of another year, we see how the time that is given us is being marked with decline.
I want you to see the message to the angel of the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-4:
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
What is our first love? Verse 5 tells us: "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
The Word of God, the Saviour of the world, the King of kings, cautions against the declension of the church. The church started out in such a blessed state, but it continues to decline. .. continue reading
Four Reasons to Face the New Year without Fear
Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us therewith be content." If you know Jesus Christ, you have contentment. If you've got clothes on your back, something to eat, and Jesus Christ in your heart, you're rich! Read the article at:
Making All Things New
I think New Year's brings so many mixed emotions because New Year's (and birthdays) remind us that we are creatures limited to time. With the passage of time we not only sense our mortality, but most of us have accumulated personal losses or regrets alongside our precious memories. And time's indifferent, methodical nature does not allow us to go back and have a redo. Read the article at:
Going Forward in the New Year
We must analyze our books by the Word of God so that every decision and everything we do is based on Scripture or we will hear, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love," REV 2:4. Do we look back at the year with shame and consternation of faith because Christ has not been our first love? Then we have an account that must be corrected and an inventory that needs adjusting. Read the article at:
Motherhood is a Special Task
QUESTION: More than anything in the world I want to be a good mom to my kids. How can I be the mom God wants me to be?
ANSWER FROM MAX: The virgin birth is more, much more, than a Christmas story. It is a picture of how close Christ will come to you, a mom, as you also bring a child into the world. Imagine yourself in that story found in Luke 1.
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There's No Love Like a Mother's
So, what has your mom done for you lately? Here's what my mother did for me recently. ...
New Year Resolution
With the coming of the new year comes the many new year resolutions. It is that time of the year when we feel it is a good time to make changes to our lives, yet many new year resolutions come and go without much, if any, effective change at the end of that year.
Rather than drawing up a long list of things to do and to avoid, for this year I will focus only on one resolution. It is a resolution that, even if I am not able to fully keep it or even if I manage to keep it for a little while, I should still be able to benefit from it. There should be some perceptible difference to my experience of life.
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Humor: God Help the Fish
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In HIS Service
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World Journal
ID No: 956