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The Baptism of Our Lord Sunday,

January 10, 2021 -

Homily - "The Secret of Jesus"by Pr. Jim



660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor


10 January 2021


Welcome to this morning’s Zoom worship service as you join in giving thanks and praise to

our Epiphany Lord with your brothers and sisters in Christ. With joy in your heart and thanks

on your lips, come into his presence with your gifts of service and love.

AS WE GATHER     Anointed with Power 

At his baptism, Jesus was affirmed as the Messiah, God’s anointed One with whom he was well-pleased. At his baptism, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power to accomplish great things. In our baptism, we, too, were granted salvation and anointed with the Holy Spirit. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life

(Romans 6:4).”


Lord God, your gifts are unique to each of us. You bless us with many varied ways that we might glorify you. Teach us to use our gifts wisely so that your Church might be built up through us. Gift us with your Spirit who will direct our eyes to see the opportunities which you lay before us; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Baptized and set free

I was there to hear your borning cry


Our re-creation in baptism is an image of the Genesis creation, where the Spirit of God moved over the waters. Both Mark’s gospel and the story in Acts make clear that it is the Spirit’s movement that distinguishes Jesus’ baptism from John the Baptist’s. The Spirit has come upon us as upon Jesus and the Ephesians, calling us God’s beloved children and setting us on Jesus’ mission to re-create the world in the image of God’s vision of justice and peace.

PRELUDE      Come, Holy Spirit, Dove Divine—H. Percy Smith      Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano  


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.


God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with God while we are walking in darkness,

we lie and do not do what is true.

But if we walk in the light as God himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Today we celebrate our Lord’s baptism, and the power of the Spirit at work in him.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +

Most merciful God, you dwell in light unapproachable. Unprotected, we perish

in your presence, for our hearts are darkened, our minds beclouded; we call for night to cover our deeds; we have loved darkness rather than light. The darkness of death awaits us.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world; the light no darkness can overcome.

   For his sake we beg forgiveness.

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; in him there is repentance and forgiveness, strength, and healing; him we are set free from the darkness that blinded us. As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ,

and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The grace of God that extends to all nations in Christ Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit be with you all. And also with you.


Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us

with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the

face of Jesus Christ.

     We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord

Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes, became poor; who became obedient unto death, even death on a cross; who died and is alive forevermore; who opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, who is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father; who will come again, as Judge and King.

     You are the King of glory, O Christ.

Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the

Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the

family of God, and made members of the body of Christ,

whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.

     All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.    


Almighty God, creator of light and giver of goodness, your voice moves over the waters. Immerse us in your grace, and transform us by your Spirit, that we may follow after your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

FIRST LESSON Genesis 1:1-5

[Out of chaos, God brings order. Out of the formless void, God brings light. This familiar story was good news to the Israelites, who experienced much chaos in their history. It remains good news for us, God created and continues to create new life.]

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

SECOND LESSON Acts 19:1-7                                        

[In Ephesus, Paul encounters people who had received John’s baptism of repentance but had never heard of the Holy Spirit or of baptism in the Name of Jesus. After Paul baptizes them, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and empowers them with gifts of the Spirit.]

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

Then he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.”

On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied—all together there were about twelve of them.

The word of the Lord.

   Thanks be to God!

GRACE CHOIR Come to The Water—John B. Foley arr. by Jack Shrader

HOLY GOSPEL Mark 1:4-11       

[Mark’s gospel reports the story of Jesus’ baptism with some irony; the one on whom the Spirit descends is himself the one who will baptize others with the Holy Spirit.]

John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

   Praise to you, O Christ.

SPECIAL MUSIC O Zion, Haste—James Welch

HOMILY The Secret of Jesus Text: The Gospel Lesson Pr. Jim

Genesis 1:1-5; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

The Secret of Jesus

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

It’s possible to see these opening verses of St. Mark’s Gospel as his Christmas Story. The gospel of Mark really doesn’t have one, you know. So, if this is Mark’s Christmas story, it’s obvious it’s not quite the one St. Luke tells us. Although it may be closer to the one St. Matthew relates, for there only Joseph knows what’s going on—because it’s revealed to him in a dream. Even Herod doesn’t … and for the moment mustn’t … and the Wise Men are instructed to return by a different way. For a while at least the Child’s identity must remain a secret.

In a way—at least when you compare it to the other Gospels—Secret seems to be the gist of Mark’s Christmas story … the account of our Lord’s baptism and the beginning of his public ministry. It’s true that John the Baptist may preach quite publicly in the wilderness and baptize crowds in the Jordan. He may even announce the coming of One “who is mightier than I,” who will baptize with the Spirit. But when it begins to happen, it turns out to be a rather private affair. As Mark tells it, it is Jesus (and apparently only Jesus) who sees the heavens opened, and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. The voice from heaven is addressed to him alone—not, Mark seems to imply, in the hearing of everyone, but to Him alone: “You are my Son; with You I am pleased.”

Later, others would hear the Word of God decisively and begin to be let in on the secret. Halfway through Mark’s Gospel, three of the disciples will hear the voice too on the Mount of Transfiguration. But even then, they are warned to keep the whole thing a secret until after the resurrection. It’s an interesting coincidence that in our worship calendar this year, Transfiguration Sunday falls about halfway between Christmas and Easter—Christmas when the story begins, and Easter when the full secret is revealed.

But for now, it’s still a SECRETJesus’ secret. He alone sees the heavens opened … the Spirit descend on Him like a dove … and hears the voice of the Father, “You are my Son, my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And as Mark’s story progresses, many will have differing opinions as to who Jesus is and what He’s up to—miracle worker … parable preacher … troublemaker … exorcist or anarchist … rabble-rouser or rabbi … mad man or messiah. Many people will have many opinions and will act on them … or fail to act … depending on what they think. But Jesus knows! Even if no one else does. And that knowledge makes a profound difference.

  • He has seen the heavens open.  And that means that no matter what other people think or do, even before the story begins the outcome is certain.  Even if it finally leads to death, heaven is open, and that is where it will end.
  • He has experienced the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And because the Spirit descended on Him, His life now has a direction and purpose:  to do good and heal those who are oppressed by the devil … to be a light in a dark world—one light at least, even if others refused to shine—one who has come to free the oppressed from everything that held them imprisoned.
  • He heard the Father’s promise that He was God’s beloved Son.  Nobody else knew that; not till the end of the book does anyone else say it out loud.  But He knows … He knows that He is the beloved Son of God.

“But of course,” we want to say. “Of course, God would be pleased with Him.” After all, He was perfect, sinless, holy, and obedient—of course God was well pleased with Him. All of which is true, I’ll grant you. But in Mark’s Gospel none of that has happened yet. We have yet to come to the temptation in the wilderness—that keynote test of Jesus’ loyalty and determination and obedience to the Father’s will.

It strikes me then that God announced that he is pleased BEFORE His Son does anything at all.

That’s the point … St. Mark seems to be making … Christmas really worked! Christmas worked so well that Jesus became so much a true human being like us that—Son of God that He was, “the mightier One” announced by John—He nonetheless began His life under God the same way we did … by grace! … by the good will of God who chooses to be pleased on His own initiative. “It began with His being “anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power” in baptism. Christmas worked so well that Jesus’ ministry under God begins exactly where yours and mine does—in the waters of Holy Baptism!

And because Christmas really worked, so does baptism! From here on out in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus knows exactly who He is … even when no one else does. And … it makes a difference … a difference in the way He lives, and even finally in the way He dies—for God was with Him.

And in Jesus Christ God is with US! Because He took His place … our place … there in the waters of baptism and sanctified those waters with His presence, Baptism works for us as well. Which finally is the point I want to make with you today.

We are the children of God, His beloved sons and daughters. He named us that in our Baptism. There at the font, He adopted us into His royal family Because He is well pleased with us … not because we are so loveable or God-pleasing … but because God chooses to be pleased with us. He chose to send this, His beloved Son, into the water where we are—to share our predicament and take our place, to obey where we fail, to forgive and restore … and to send the Holy Spirit upon us … the Spirit who keeps us faithful—faithful in our faith and faithful in our mission to follow in His steps to be lights in a dark world

All this is assured to us in Baptism … our Lord’s and our own. As was the case with our Savior, there are times in our lives when it may be a secret. Others … even some very close to us … may not be willing to acknowledge that we are who we are … or accept what we do because we know who we are. But it never stopped Jesus, and it shouldn’t stop us either. If only privately and personally, like our Lord, we have the assurance of our Baptism … God’s affirmation that heaven is open … the Spirit has descended … that we are His beloved children now and forever, with whom He chooses to be “well pleased.”

No matter what happens, that’s the secret! Don’t ever …don’t ever let anything make you forget it or stop sharing the story for all people.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.


Guided by Christ made known to the nations, let us pray for The Church, the world, and all who are in need.

A Brief Pause

For The Church throughout the world and her leaders, that guided by the Holy Spirit they may proclaim the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For wilderness and water, wind and wild beasts, and all living things on earth, that God’s goodness is revealed through creation and faithful stewards for all God has made. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For the nations of the world and their leaders, for laborers busy both day and night, and for peacemakers amid strife, that God inspire all people to use their strength wisely in the pursuit of justice and peace. Protect all those in harm’s way and those risking danger for the sake of others. Send your spirit of discernment upon legislators grappling with complex decisions that affect our common good as a nation. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For our country, its leaders, legislators, and citizens, that God would lead us all along the paths

of justice, righteousness, and peace, giving us delight in living with honor and love toward our neighbor during these days of protests, rioting, and civil unrest. During these troublesome times and days calm our anxiousness and bless our country with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

For the sick and those who provide medical care, that God would strengthen and sustain them as they care for others in our community and around the world. We pray especially for the doctors, nurses, and technicians who care for those suffering from COVID-19. Refresh those who labor under the weight of pain or sickness. We commend to your care : Kristel (recovering from surgery), Charlie and Marguerite (MaryAnn’s father and mother), Rusty (under hospice care), and Shari. Raise the spirits of those who are home-bound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

For our congregation gathered in worship, that all the beloved children of God may experience grace and peace. Guide the members of our Call Committee as they prepare to interview the candidates for pastoral leadership and ministry among us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

In thanksgiving for all the saints who have gone before us with the sign of faith, that their witness inspire us in our baptismal calling. In the fullness of time, give us our inheritance in Christ and gather us all together in your eternal presence. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the One who dwells among us, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.


Merciful God, as you have blessed us with many gifts, so receive now these offerings of ourselves, our time, and our possessions. Through this meal

unite us as your body, that we may be a light to all nations; for the sake of

him who gave himself for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Holy God, creator of all and source of all life, at the

birth of time your Word brought light into the world.

In the fullness of time, you sent your Word, born of

Mary, to shine in our darkness and make us your

sons and daughters.

“In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Now in the words of our Lord, we are bold to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven;

hallowed be Thy Name,

Thy kingdom come,

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses .

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil;

For thine is the kingdom

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.

Distribution music: Seed, scattered and sown


God of glory, in this Sacrament you unite us in the body of your Son. May we who have been guests at this table grow in love for one another, that through us your light may shine in all the world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


POST-SERVICE MUSIC Shine, Jesus, Shine

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