A new year, and a new Lockdown. It can seem as if life with this pandemic has gone back to the beginning again.
In both our readings for today (Genesis 1:1-5 & Mark 1: 1-11), Scripture also takes us back to the beginning.
Genesis tells of Creation, of the beginnings of the world, the beginning of mankind, the beginning of sin and the beginning of God’s special relationship with the people He created.
And what was the power behind the work of Genesis? It was the Spirit of God, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. (1:1,2)
And that is what we see when Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan, the Spirit of God came to Jesus. He was baptised not only with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
Mark starts, as in Genesis, at the beginning. God is about to begin a new creative work through the life and ministry of His Son. It is re-creation and redemption. “This is the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. And he did that by challenging the people to look at themselves; to look at their lives and to look at their relationship with God.
Whatever was wrong, change it, and those who wanted to change, he baptised. John's ministry was by preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
He called on the people to turn away from their old ways, to change in both mind and heart, from self to God.
While Mark does not say why Jesus sought Baptism from John, what we can see is that Jesus chose to identify himself with all who were seeking a fresh start and a new relationship with God. He identifies with us, no matter our situation or where we are in life.
For us, we can look at John’s message as a wake-up call, a time to face the past honestly and, by God’s grace, to make changes for the future.
In the opening words of Genesis, God brings order to the chaos and fills the void with new life; that is what happened at the beginning of creation.
The Good News is that God’s Spirit is still active today, if only we would recognise it. In times of difficulty, when we feel overwhelmed, or when everything goes out of control, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the order and balance God brought as shown in Genesis and ask for His help.
“Lord, in the beginning you brought order out of chaos. Do it again, in my life!”
At Christmas, we celebrated the miracle of “God with us” in the person of Jesus. Today we celebrate the miracle of “God within us” by the Holy Spirit.
Just as in Jesus, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), so God takes on flesh again by inhabiting our lives by His Spirit.
In these first weeks at the beginning of a New Year, let us be re-invigorated and renewed by God's Spirit; by God's creative, living Spirit.
Let’s grasp the opportunity we are offered to refresh a tired faith, a faith that has perhaps been under pressure by all that has been happening in our life; by loss, by illness, by disappointments, we may have experienced.
Let us start again on our journey with Christ, empowered, supported and strengthened in the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that was the creative force in the beginning. The same Spirit that came to Jesus in the Jordan.
Today, let us start a new beginning with Christ.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, as your Spirit swept over the waters of Creation, You are sweeping over us now, creating something new. Call us away from the distractions of the world to experience what You are doing now, in us, and through us, and in our world.
Open us to a new awakening, to a new beginning, where we look with new eyes and see the goodness of Your creation, experiencing all possibilities in You.
Loving Lord, as we give You thanks for a new start, a fresh start, guide us in our lives we pray. May others see your love shine through us. May our words and actions constantly point to you.
May we put You first in everything and serve You always, trusting the Spirit that breathes life, trusting the love that will not let us go, trusting the promise of the Word made flesh. Whatever the future holds may we never lose sight of You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And may the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shine in our hearts, transform our lives and brighten the world.