We find parentheses in today’s reading. Don’t you love parentheses? I think of them as little Wikipedia entries within a story. They illuminate what we might not see otherwise. Christianity in its earliest days was a movement of wild men and women who had no handbooks, no instructions. All they knew was Jesus, who was crucified but somehow still alive, and they had to figure out or wait for the rest. So they performed baptism in Jesus’ name.

Our parentheses tells us more of the story: “(. . . they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus).” But, according to the Jerusalem church, baptism in the name of Jesus was too tame. The apostles find the wildness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, as Jesus had promised. So Peter and John go to Samaria to install baptism version 2.0: “Holy Spirit Animated Discipleship.” Peter and John do about the simplest thing you can imagine; they pray for the Samaritans and then lay hands on them. Then “they received the Holy Spirit.” God’s animating wildness comes upon them! The text gives us no more details about how this happens, but we know something of its effect. In the next verses, Simon, a magician, offers money to Peter and John to buy this power of bestowing the Spirit-breath (vv. 18-25). He wants the “big deal.” So, what was the big deal? We don’t know.

But trace through the Bible the Hebrew ruach and the Greek pneuma—words for wind, breath, and spirit—and the emerging litany will find you tingling with the stirrings of nature (human and otherwise).

Remember that you are baptized. How is the Spirit animating your discipleship?

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

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Leccionario Semanal
January 7–13, 2019
Resumen de la Escritura

Water is an important theme throughout the Bible. The authors of scripture use water as an image of transition and sometimes challenge and always tie it back to God’s renewing work. Isaiah records the divine promise that God will not abandon Israel, even if they pass through trying waters—a reference to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians. The psalmist declares that God’s voice covers all the waters, so nothing can come against us that is beyond God’s reach. In Acts we see the connection between baptism—passing through the water—and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The emphasis is on the inclusion of the Samaritans, a group considered unclean by many but not by God. We see clearly the connection between water baptism and the Spirit in the baptism of Jesus himself.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Isaiah presents an image of God’s favor that is at once particular and universal. How do you experience God’s love for you as part of the body of Christ as well as for all persons?
Read Psalm 29. God’s creation, in its wildness, incorporates destruction. In the face of disaster, how do you find a way to say, “Glory”?
Read Acts 8:14-17. Our baptism is in the name of Jesus and the name of the Spirit. To what wildness does the Spirit prompt you?
Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22. Remember your baptism and listen for God’s call out into the wildness of the world.

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