Readings for Baptismal Theology: Lent 1B
Wednesday's readings were for the sinful creation in medias res, demonstrating the proper liturgical response to the apocalypse -- and we will sing this response, "Return to the Lord your god, for he is gracious and merciful / slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love." But Sunday's readings, for this first Sunday in Lent, speak of the new creation in the wake of the apocalypse. This week, we contemplate the life promised as we return to YHVH our god, who is patient and has mercy on creation.
1 Peter 3:17-22
And God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, "Observe: I establish my compact with you, with your offspring after you, and with every living, breathing thing with you -- birds, cattle, and everything that lives on the earth with you; everything that came out of the ark -- a compact concerning all earthly life. I establish my compact with you, that never again shall floodwaters consume every body -- never again will there be a flood to lay waste to the earth."
And God said, "This is the monument of the compact that I provide between me, you, and every living, breathing thing that is with you, for eternal posterity: I have placed my bow in the thundering cloud, and it will be a monument of the compact between me and the earth. When I obscure the earth in thundering cloud, the bow will be seen in the thundering cloud, and I will remember the compact that stands between me and you and every living, breathing thing in every body. No longer will the waters flood so as to lay waste to every body. The bow will be in the thundering cloud, and I will see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and every living, breathing thing, in every body that is upon the earth."
And God said to Noah, "This is the monument of the compact that I have established between me and every body that is upon the earth."
1 Peter 3:17-22
Indeed, it is better to suffer while doing good than while doing evil, if the will of God so inclines -- because Christ, too, died once with respect to sins, the just for the unjust, in order to bring you to God. Christ was killed in the flesh and made alive in the spirit, and by means of the spirit he also went and announced to the spirits who were in safe-keeping -- spirits once unpersuaded, back in the days of Noah when the patience of God anticipated the construction of an ark in which a few (that is, eight) lives were rescued by means of water.
And this corresponds to the baptism that saves you in the present time, which is not the removal of bodily grime, but rather the response of right awareness to God, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ who, having departed to heaven, is at God's right hand with messengers, authorities, and abilities subject to him.
And it happened, on one of those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. And right as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the sky being split, and the breath of God coming down to him like a pigeon, and a voice from the sky: "You are my beloved son, and I found you acceptable."
And immediately the breath of God cast him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days being tested by the Adversary, and he was with the wild animals, and the angels tended to his needs.
Now, after John was handed over, Jesus went to Galilee, announcing the proclamation of God, "The cycle is complete and the kingdom of God is imminent. Reflect upon and trust this proclamation!"