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The Baptism of Christ 2022
9 January 2022
Today’s readings: Titus 2:11-14; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22.
Let us pray.

Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
 grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Amen.
 

A Reflection from Anita


Beloved Trinity what must we do? 

Lectionary 
 
Isaiah 42:1-4&6-7 
Ps29 
Acts10:34-38 
Luke3:15-16 &21-22 
 
Today we are invited to be with Jesus aged 30, at the beginning of his ministry. We find him at the River Jordan with his cousin John and the crowds gathered there. People who are burdened and puzzled trying to read divine signs come full of questions. Is John the Messiah and what should they do to repent? John replies by distinguishing his water baptism of repentance with the Baptism of the Messiah – characterized by the Holy Spirit and Fire.  In response to what to do, he tells them to share, with those in need, to act justly, not to extort or abuse position or power. 
 
We find Jesus waiting to be baptised In the waters of the Jordan. He stands with the throng of bruised, ashamed people, seeking John’s baptism of repentance. To John and to us, that is a conundrum. Why does the sinless one, need to be baptised? It’s a question that not only John struggled with but the early church.  Luke situates this scene at a significant place where the wandering Jews left the desert to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. It signals leaving behind, old ways and selfishness, anticipating the hope af a fresh start 
 
In one short verse Luke 3:21-22, reveals a momentous marvel. Jesus. Is baptised, he prays, the Holy Spirit descends (Dove) and the Voice of the Father is heard. A theophany – the unveiling of God in three persons happens.  The Father’s Voice is a proclamation. ‘You are my Beloved Son’.  It affirms the Divine Sonship of the Messiah and all that was said by the Angel Gabriel to Mary.  That He will be the Son of the Most High, overshadowed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Together we glimpse the ineffable and wade into the Mystery of the Holy Trinity 
God the Father is pleased with His Beloved Son from all eternity as the human image and reflection of God’s nature, essence and glory.  The Holy Spirt descends as a dove in gentleness and power the most humble and faithful bird, symbol of purity, peace, faithfulness.  
 
Here the Holy Spirit hovering on the Beloved Son reminds us of the Beloved woman in the Song of Songs 1;15 We are touched by the God that we long to be infused by, our merciful loving, Father, Redeemer, Comforter and Counsellor.  I am reminded that the Holy Spirit helps us who struggle to pray and intercedes for us with sighs that cannot be expressed. (Romans 8:26) 
 
There is humbling, delight and joy in this scene. Jesus stands in the murky water to reconcile us to the Father?   Debbie Thomas captures the wonder, shock and scandal of it. She says, ‘He is the one who stands in line with us…willing to immerse himself in shame, scandal and pain….so we too might hear the only Voice that will tell us who we are and whose we are. God’s own children.’ 
 
Imagine the awe of this momentous unveiling of the Trinity as we glimpse the ineffable?  The Joy of the Father in the Beloved Son. Not only does this passage echo with the words we heard in our First reading from Isaiah 42:1-4&6-7-, it links the mysterious Servant; to the beloved Jesus.  He has the characteristics of compassion and mercy reaching down in solidarity to mend the broken and bruised.  
 
He will bring justice to the nations compassionately – his grace will restore, he will not break a bruised reed or dimly burning wick, but make it glow again.  The Chosen one comes to establish justice and righteousness. He the Lord given as a covenant and promise to his people, He is a light to the nations- to open the eyes of the blind, and to release those who sit in prison and darkness. 
 
How do these passages speak and apply to us? What can we do? 
 
Perhaps they help us to reconsider our own baptism in the name of the Trinity. We are immersed in God, clothed in Christ through the water and Holy Spirit become new beloved children of God, We renounce evil and are signed with the cross. Pope Benedict reminds us that renunciations must continue to be made by each of us throughout our lives. Perhaps we need to reflect on the stains of our sin. Only God can help us to clean up and clear out. 
 
Some of us are not very aware of sin. We think we are alright, make excuses for our behaviour and overlook our blind spots.  We can be fragile, easily bruised and defensive.  What do we want to take to the Light of the Lord so we can be released from the shades of darkness that imprison us or the fears that impede us? 
 
The passages in Isaiah provide us with comfort in the promises of God. 
 
Nothing is too broken for God to restore if we turn to Him.  We are given hope in a God who revives, despite the rubble and mess of our lives.  Let us remember the power and mercy of the God that we belong to. We are the beloved sons and daughters, restored and forgiven who can do all things with and through him.  
 

Organ Voluntary


Improvisation on ‘Alle roem is uitgesloten’ (All fame is gone) – Hendrik van Veen:
 
Watch here

Today’s hymn


Songs of thankfulness and praise:
 
Watch here

Music from Matthew


Music today draws on texts pertinent to the feast of the Baptism of Christ. At the offertory, Carola will sing an arrangement of the verse anthem This is the Record of John by the English Renaissance composer Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625). He was renowned as one of the last masters of the English Virginalist and Madrigalist schools and was organist of Westminster Abbey for two years before his early death. This anthem alternates between soloist (originally a high tenor or countertenor) and vocal consort accompanied by organ or viols. It sets a text from the Gospel of St John which is echoed in Luke’s Gospel today where John the Baptist is asked if he is the Messiah. The piece was commissioned by William Laud while he was President of St John’s College, Oxford:
 
This is the Record of John (Orlando Gibbons)
 
This is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not, and said plainly, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What art thou then? Art thou Elias? And he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, What art thou? that we may give an answer unto them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? And he said, I am the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.
(John 1:19–23)
 
Michael Chance (countertenor), Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
London Early Music Group, Sir Philip Ledger (director)
https://youtu.be/ee6-eXO5pZI
 
During communion you will hear the Benedictus for soprano solo from the ‘Sparrow’ Mass of W.A. Mozart (1756-91). This text is actually set as the offertory proper for this day, as well as being an ordinary of the mass. Enjoy its intricate interplay between voice and keyboard.
 
Benedictus from the ‘Sparrow’ Mass (Mozart)
 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
 
Ann Monoyios (soprano), Collegium Cartusianum Köln, Peter Neumann (director)
https://youtu.be/FdEl9suCgqw

Grace in our lives


I heard a piece on the radio this week about New Year’s Resolutions; or rather, not New Year’s Resolutions, but New Year’s ‘graces.’  The proponent argued that she was not going to resolve to walk more, go to the gym, go on a diet or cut down on alcohol but rather look for daily ‘graces’ or treats, that would improve and enhance her life, and brighten her day.

Of course, I immediately thought of the grace of God, and wanted to commend us all to seek it more devoutly in 2022, especially through our commitment to daily prayer and the worship of the Church.  I wanted to encourage us all, as far as we are able, to attend the Eucharist every week (come at 11am on Wednesday, if you can’t make Sunday) to receive the grace of God in the sacrament, to show our determination to seek the grace of God, and to pray for the grace of God in our lives and in the lives of those we love and know.  It is only through such devotion on our part that the life of the Church at St. Anne’s, and our lives, can be strengthened, renewed and re-built.

I then came across this article, below, which speaks of the grace of God and reminds us, as we celebrate the Baptism of Christ, how we first received such grace at our baptism.  It is such a wonderful gift to us that we should not neglect it.
https://catholicexchange.com/five-ways-to-seek-grace-in-your-life/
 

THOUGHTS ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – 2022


Barbara Ross:

PART 1

During our study morning on the Gospel of Luke we noted that many of the main themes of Luke appear in the first two chapters, to be developed and returned to later in the Gospel.   So, a careful reading of these chapters is a good preparation for an appreciation of the Sunday Gospel readings in Year C, when Luke’s account predominates.

Luke wishes to present an orderly account (1: 1-4.).  This brief introduction is written in good Greek; Luke’s audience was a community of mainly well -educated Gentile Christians who would be attracted by good writing.

The events recorded are placed in their historical context (1: 5), to give them authenticity, and the first two chapters are written in an archaic Greek, in order to present the life of Jesus in the history of Israel, and as the fulfilment of the prophecies and promises in the Hebrew Scriptures.  

 The Gospel begins in Jerusalem with the prophet Zechariah in the Temple.  Luke, although a Gentile, attaches importance to both places. Jerusalem was the city where God’s salvation would be revealed, and a place of reconciliation and renewal. The Temple was a place of the special presence of God, and of encounter with God. We remember that the Gospel ends with the disciples returning to Jerusalem after the Ascension, to bless God in the Temple and to await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The people are praying as Zechariah offers incense.  There is a focus on prayer in Luke’s Gospel; Jesus frequently withdraws to a quiet place to pray to the Father.  And prayer is followed by a significant event, as here, when the angel Gabriel appears to announce the birth of John the Baptist.   The prayers of the righteous, but childless, Zechariah and Elizabeth have been answered.  The couple receive the mercy and compassion of God, as do many of the suffering whom Jesus heals or restores.

The child, even before his birth, will be filled with the Holy Spirit (1: 15b).   The Holy Spirit plays a significant role in this chapter, and, indeed, throughout the Gospel.  Mary of course conceives Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, the overshadowing of the Most High (1: 35); Elizabeth, at the Visitation (1: 39ff), is filled with the Holy Spirit, and so recognizes Mary as the Mother of the Lord, thus proclaiming the presence of Jesus among us.

Mary pronounces her great song of praise: the Magnificat, rejoicing in God her Saviour (1: 46ff). Praise and worship figure largely in the Gospel; it begins and ends with worship in the Temple, as we have noted.

And the Magnificat announces the great reversal which God brings about in the teaching and action of Jesus, God incarnate.  God favours the lowly, in particular of course in the role he has chosen for Mary. Jesus has come for the poor and underprivileged, for those who need him.

The birth of John the Baptist is greeted with general rejoicing (1: 58).   Joy thanksgiving and praise of God for his mercy occur frequently in Luke.  All that has happened at the circumcision of John is talked about, shared, echoing the encounter between Mary and Elizabeth, who exchanged their stories of the miraculous action of God.

Chapter 1 ends with the second of Luke’s great canticles, the Benedictus: ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel … (1: 68ff).   It speaks of the favour God has shown to his people, the fulfilment of his promises, of forgiveness of sins and of salvation.

This chapter invites us to consider the place of worship, praise, and thanksgiving in our own lives.  Do we find joy in the Gospel accounts, and how do we regard the poor, the vulnerable and the dispossessed?  Luke’s Gospel draws us into the story and inspires us to respond.
 

A Candlemas Service

 A Candlemas Service at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Something new at St. Anne’s, a service of music and readings to mark the Feast of Candlemas, the end of the Christmas Season and as we turn towards Lent.
Sunday 30th January at 6pm.  More details to follow.  A reflective service to which to invite friends, family, and neighbours.

Gert Van Hoef Livestream


First broadcast on the Feast of the Epiphany 2022
 
Watch here

Mobile ‘phone upgrade at St. Anne’s


When you come to church on Sunday you will notice some scaffolding at the side of the spire.  This is to facilitate an up-grade of the mobile ‘phone mast but will not affect services.
 

For your prayers


Please pray for Raisley Moorsom, 22, who is critically ill in hospital after being attacked on the street.
Also, for Adam Clayton who remains seriously ill in hospital.
Also, for the repose of the soul of Bill Saunders.  His funeral will take place on Friday 28th January, at St. Mary, Brookfield, at 12.30pm.
 

A brief history of Sicily


No particular reason to include this except that I came across it by chance, it’s short and entertaining, especially if you don’t know much about the history of Sicily, and it chimed in with some recent conversations.  Also, an interesting point about architectural inculturation which resonates with our own times:
 
Watch here

A Concert in aid of HNCC and the Harington Scheme


As most of you will know, we have been in partnership with Highgate New Town Community Centre for many years now, supporting and, sometimes, funding their valuable community and outreach work, especially with young people.
You may also know that the Community Centre, on Bertram Street, is currently being redeveloped and needs to raise around £650,000 for the furbishment of the new premises.
Do support this lovely concert, if you are able, as I know that some of you know Charles Owen who is playing and others of you as keen supporters of the Harington Scheme.
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