1 Epiphany – Year A

Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17

“The Church recruited people who had been starched and ironed before they were washed.” – John Wesley

                John preached a baptism (a washing) for the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus comes to John to be washed; yet he had no sin.  So, why?  Perhaps it was a statement of solidarity.  Although Jesus had no sin, humanity is so plagued.  Jesus is in solidarity with humanity, at one with our downfall, at one with us wherever we may be, or not be.  The challenge for us is to accept a two way street.  If Jesus is one with us, are we bold enough to be one with him?  Can we like Jesus go into the darkness of other people to open their eyes and release them from dungeons (Isaiah 42:7)?  Often we can’t because, although we are starched and ironed, looking real good in church, we are not yet washed of our cowardice.  But when washed in the daring of Jesus we will hear the same heavenly voice that spoke of Jesus (Matthew 3:17) say the same words to us: “This is my son, my daughter, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”  Jesus’ solidarity calls for our solidarity.


                In our day and age, and for many centuries, we have made words that were ordinary daily language into technical religious terms.  This tends to separate religion from ordinary life.  One example is the word “baptism.”  In Jesus’ day the Greek word simply meant “wash.”  In our modern English bibles we read: “They came to John to be baptized.”  The original Greek simply says: “They came to John to be washed.”  John was known as “John the Washer.”  From our European background we might call him “Mr. John Washer.”


Bathed with each other.

Boldly into darkness gone.

Dungeons emptied bright.