Baptism of the Lord [by Dr Elizabeth Perry]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Gen 1:1-5
Isa 42:5-7
2nd Reading
Acts 19:1-7
Acts 10:34-38
Mark 1:4-11
by Dr. Elizabeth Perry, Programme and Communication Manager, Anglican Alliance, London (UK)


Genesis 1.1-5

Creation – the world belongs to God. The Holy Spirit broods over the waters from which will come life.

Psalm 29

The voice of the Lord is over the waters. The voice of the Lord is heard in creation – in the trees, the wilderness, the forests, in fire and floods, through nimals… and over the waters.

Acts 19.1-7

Baptism/water, the Holy Spirit, revelation, changed lives and prophetic witness combine in this passage.

Mark 1.4-11

John baptizes with water – a baptism of repentance.  Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, who brings new life. At Jesus’ baptism, water is the place of revelation: a voice from heaven declares Jesus to be God’s beloved son.


Water is the unifying theme of the four scriptures set for today: the waters that the Spirit was brooding over at Creation’s dawn; the waters that God’s voice thunders over, which the psalmist sings about; the waters of the baptism practised by Paul and John, and which Jesus himself goes through, where once again God’s Spirit is present, revealed and active in acts of re-creation. In these passages, water is the source of life and a symbol of new life. Water is the means of revelation and a metaphor for crisis / a turning point (for new believers and for Jesus).

Water continues to be a powerful metaphor and place of revelation in our world today:

In 2021, UN-Water report that 29% of the world’s people do not use a safely managed drinking water source, less than 50% of the world’s people use a safely managed sanitation service and only 6 in 10 people have access to a basic handwashing facility. What is the voice of the Lord saying over these waters?

Water is also the primary means by which climate change is experienced by millions of people across the world: whether through rising sea levels (leading to salination of soil, crop loss and land loss), stronger and more frequent storms, flooding or drought. What is the voice of the Lord saying over these waters?

And, as Christians, we are bound through the water of baptism to fellow Christians – and all God’s children –  around the world who are at the sharp end of poverty, injustice and environmental degradation.  What is the voice of the Lord saying over the shared water of our baptisms?

One of the joys of being part of the Anglican Alliance is to see some of the life-giving endeavours Christians across the world are engaged in daily – bringing relief to people who have been through flooding, storms and other disaster; bringing clean water and sanitation to their communities; working to tackle climate change in myriad ways.

This video, Troubled Waters, offers a visual reflection on many of these themes.

Where do you see the Holy Spirit hovering, creating and recreating, bringing new life?

What action can you take to make water more of a blessing than a challenge to people this coming year?


Further prayers and reflections here:

by Dr. Elizabeth Perry, Anglican Alliance, London