Epiphany 1/Baptism of Christ

SUNDAY, 10 JANUARY 2021

A few weeks ago we gave an ‘eye-witness’ account of John the Baptist in place of the regular sermon. This went down really well and so  thought that I would put together a follow-up, using the same character          witnessing the ‘Baptism of Christ’.

 Reading a story from the Bible and imaginine that you are there is a really good exercise and something that I can recommend. Looking at an event with our 21st –century eyes, complete with our  politically-correct attitudes and modern technology really brings the story alive. So, let’s set the scene…you’re with your cousin sitting on the bank of the river Jordan. Since coming along to see John out of curiosity, you have become a bit of a follower and have started to come along to see what he has to say. So, grab a cuppa, find a comfy chair and enjoy!

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Well, I’m here again. I can’t begin to tell you how things have changed. You might remember that I told you about John…you know, the Baptist down at the river. I must admit that when I saw him the first time, I did think he was a bit of a wierdo, you know, with him wearing that strange tunic. Miriam said it was made of camel hair. It didn’t look very clean to me and I’d love to give it a good wash. But no way would I dare get too close, I mean, well…he’s a bit temperamental.

Anyway, I’ve been coming over here twice a week now, ever since that day when I found myself wading into the river with all the others. I can’t really explain it. I’m just drawn here. It’s like I’m bursting with excitement and have to tell others about it. Practically all of my neighbours have been over and they all agree with me… that there’s something…but can’t really put my finger on it…He’s intriguing is John and his reputation has spread like wildfire.

When Sammi, my cousin came with me for the first time, he was straight in there, dashing into the water and you’ll never guess, he even tried to re-join the queue and wanted to do it all again and I had all on to hold him back…I mean…it works the first time. No doubt about it!

Anyway, something really funny happened last week. I was down here as normal and our Sammi had come with me again. You might remember that John had been telling us that he was only the messenger and that he was waiting for somebody even better than himself?

Well…it happened. It was the strangest thing I’d ever seen. She was right you know, that woman who said it was John’s cousin he was waiting for. I’d have put money on her being wrong but she was right. It was his carpenter cousin, Jesus.

There was no denying it though! Right from the start when he waded into the water, it’s like people parted and made way for him. There was just this air about him, can’t describe it really… well, maybe you just had to be there. 

John knew. You could tell. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. John, normally loud & brash, was suddenly like this quiet, well behaved schoolboy, as if he wasn’t good enough all of a sudden. I didn’t really understand what John had been on about up until then. Not worthy he said, to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I can believe it.

And here’s the thing. When Jesus came up out of the water…well, I don’t know if it was just me but I could swear that the sky changed and you’ll never guess…a dove fluttered down, as if out from a cloud and it very gently, you know, like hovered just above his head. I had to rub my eyes cos I thought I was seeing things. But our Sammi, he says he saw it as well.

And if I didn’t know better, I would say that there was a voice from God. But it can’t have been, can it? I mean, that sort of thing doesn’t happen nowadays, does it? If Jesus were one of those old    prophets from the scriptures, I could    understand it  but here, in the middle of the desert  with us ordinary folk as witnesses? I’m not sure. Maybe we just got a bit carried away when we saw that bird come down.

There was something though because the crowd went all quiet like. There was this atmosphere, it was electric, as if something really significant had taken place, as if all that had gone on before just didn’t count. There was a definitely a change.

I was really lucky because me and our Sammi had a really good spot and I got a good look at Jesus. He didn’t look like a carpenter. Anyway, he looked my way and it was like time stood still…I couldn’t look away. It was as if he could see right into my very soul. As if he knew me. I was stunned. I’m not sure that I could even think straight, it had all happened so fast. My heart was beating fast, I know that much.

I noticed that people were trying to get close to him. No wonder, is it? Me and our Sammi watched as he passed by when he was leaving. People were suddenly packing up and trying to keep up with him.

I think from now on, we’re going to hear a lot more about John’s cousin. He was right, you know, John that is. I have a feeling that Jesus is the one to follow now. He’s not scary, like John. This Jesus is really approachable, it’s like I can be, well… the real me with him, as if he really knows me, like there’s no secrets. Not sure how I know, I’ve only seen him the once. But when you know…you just know!  I hope I bump into him again. I’m going to try my hardest to follow him.

I’ve got a feeling he is going to change my life…

Rev Julie Clarkson

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