Do you want a fresh start?

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Dear Blog

Tomorrow is the Second Sunday after the Epiphany We’re not far from the start of the church’s year, and in the readings from the Gospel we’re seeing the start of Jesus’ public ministry.

The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.”

John clinched his witness with this: “I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ That’s exactly what I saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God.”

The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.”

The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.”

They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.

Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”). (John 1:29-42, The Message)

This passage has two parts – the first, about the baptism of Jesus, is there to put the ministry of John in context, and to provide information about who Jesus was. John’s ministry has it’s culmination, purpose and point in Jesus’ arrival. The second part of the reading is about Jesus’ call to his first disciples, Simon-Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus’ recognition of Simon-Peter. It is important to note that two of John’s disciples, on discovering who Jesus was, and why he was important, immediately followed Jesus. John had prepared the way to Jesus, who is The Way.

Perhaps the best point I can draw out of the reading, however, is this one:

That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.

One of the fantastic things about relationship with God is God’s willingness to forgive us, unconditionally. No-one else in our life is like this, only God. When the sins are forgiven, then we can have a fresh start. The forgiveness is not a once-only promise, but a continuing undertaking to forgive, as long as we’re sorry. The important link we often forget is between God’s action in forgiving us, and the new start, which calls us to change our lives, our behaviour, the way we are towards God and towards oneanother. We can’t be mired in the past anymore, and we have the opportunity to grow, change and live a better life, in closer touch with God.

C

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