The Gospel reading is Luke's version of the baptism of Christ: surely one of the most commonly recurring stories of the lectionary!
This is the start of Jesus' ministry. John the Baptist has been offering the people of Jesus’ time baptisms for repentance from sins. He is full of talk about threshing and winnowing and unquenchable fire, which is all a bit scary, as he exhorts people to turn from their wicked ways.. or else. With the baptism of Jesus, God gets a word in edgeways and when he does he expresses not displeasure or judgement, but delight in Jesus, the Son.
What better start can there be for Jesus’ ministry than to hear the Father’s blessing and know God’s presence and encouragement.
And so Jesus himself begins to spread Good News – of love and acceptance and delight.
I hope it’s not too far into tthe New Year to hear this as a message of encouragement for each one of us here. I'd like us to know God's delight in us - offering a new start, cleansing and refreshment and setting our feet on the road of purpose and love in 2010.
So come to this table to share the feast of life – not in fear and trembling because of your short-comings, but in faithful acceptance of God’s love for you.
In the name of Christ. Amen.