Identity

A postcard from 1st Sunday after the Epiphany 01/09/22

Yardenit Baptismal Site is a baptism site located along the Jordan River in the Galilee region of northern Israel, which is frequented by Christian pilgrims. Photo from November 2015.

Who are you?

In the season after the Feast of the Epiphany our Sunday readings give a glimpse of who Jesus is and challenges us to explore who we are because of Jesus. For Christians our identity begins with our baptism in the name of the Trinity. In the Episcopal Church we believe that it is Baptism “by which God adopts us
as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body,
the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.” (BCP 858) Once we are adopted by God and grafted into the body of Christ that cannot be undone.

This understanding presented an interesting conundrum for me in 2015 when I was in Israel. Our group of Episcopalian pilgrims was part of a larger group of Methodists and other protestants travelling throughout the Holy Land. The night before we were to visit the Yardenit Baptismal Site on the Jordan River (pictured above), we wrestled with how we should remember our baptisms at the Jordan River.

One option was to rent the white robes and wade into the water and be rebaptized. But that didn’t seem quite right. Not because we would be breaking the rules, but because it seemed to betray our belief in the effectiveness of our baptisms.

So the morning we visited the Jordan River, as some of our fellow pilgrims changed clothes, we Episcopalians rolled up our pant legs and waded into the river. Little fish swam between our legs and nimbled at our toes. We renewed our baptismal promises. We finished our prayers in time to take our place at the river’s edge to celebrate those in our group that were being (re-)baptized.

That moment at the Jordan River connected our group and our different Christian traditions. We all shared in being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were redeemed, called, and belonged to God.


A sermon from the Church of the Messiah in Heflin:

Principal text: Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Audio only available here


Coming next

The season after the Epiphany helps us find the joy already present in our lives and reflect on God’s continuous presence and inspiration for our daily living. The readings also invite us to explore what it means to hear, to listen, to attend to God’s spirit in every situation.

  • Jan. 16 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro – 2 Epiphany / Celebration
  • Jan. 23 – Messiah, Heflin – 3 Epiphany / Selflessness
  • Jan. 30 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke – 4 Epiphany / God’s voice shapes
  • Feb. 6 – OFF – 5 Epiphany / God’s voice directs
  • Feb. 13 – Messiah, Heflin – 6 Epiphany / God’s voice heals
  • Feb. 20 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro – 7 Epiphany / God’s voice calls
  • Feb. 27 – Messiah, Heflin – Last Sunday after the Epiphany / The Transfiguration

Published by akhudlow

I am a priest in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Alabama. I am a church nerd, printmaker, storyteller, and blogger.

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