First Sunday in Lent, Year B   Leave a comment

Above:  Baptism of a Child

Image Source = Tom Adriaenssen

Holy Baptism

FEBRUARY 21, 2021


Genesis 9:8-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

God said to Noah and to his sons with him,

As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.

God said,

This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.

God said to Noah,

This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.

Psalm 25:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

my God, I put my trust in you;

let me not be humiliated,

nor let my enemies triumph over me.

2  Let none who look to you be put to shame;

let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.

3  Show me your ways, O LORD,

and teach me your paths.

4  Lead me in your truth and teach me,

for you are the God of my salvation;

in you have I trusted all the day long.

5  Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,

for they are from everlasting.

6  Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;

remember me according to your love

and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7  Gracious and upright is the LORD;

therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8  He guides the humble in doing right

and teaches his way to the lowly.

9  All the paths of the LORD are love and faithfulness

to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (New Revised Standard Version):

Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1:9-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying,

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

First Sunday in Lent, Year A:

First Sunday in Lent, Year B:

Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee:

Genesis 9:

1 Peter 3:

Baptism of Christ:


The theme of Baptism holds this Sunday’s readings together.

There is a link between Genesis 9:8-17, which tells of aftermath of the mythical Great Flood, and 1 Peter 3:18-22.  1 Peter tells us that the flood prefigured the baptism, something, the epistle tells us, saves us.  This was an odd prefiguring, for, even as 1 Peter admits, only eight people (plus animals) survived that deluge.  I notice these details, and they bother me; maybe that is why I felt out of place in some Sunday School classes while growing up.

The very concise lesson from Mark 1 covers the baptism of Jesus, his temptation in the wilderness, and the beginning of his ministry–all in a few verses.  The baptism of John the Baptist was a one-time ritual act demonstrating repentance.  Yet Jesus was perfect.  So why did he undergo this rite?  He identified with us, mere mortals.

It is also true that rituals play important parts in individual lives and in societies.  Rites mark the passage from one state to another.  We hope, for example, that two people who marry have already committed themselves to each other before their wedding day, and so are already married in the spiritual sense.  But the ceremony, aside from having legal, tax, and benefits consequences, marks the transition for those getting married and for those who look upon them afterward.  Likewise, our Lord’s baptism at the hands of John the Baptist marked the beginning of a new phase in his life.

Lent, in my tradition, is the forty days-long period of preparation for Easter.  As a historical matter, this was when people prepared for baptism at the Easter Vigil and when those severed from the church prepared to reconcile with and rejoin it.  It is also that season during the Church Year that we are not supposed to baptize–just prepare for it.  So the placement of baptism in the readings for the First Sunday in Lent is appropriate; it establishes a theme for the season.

Baptism, when it is what it ought to be, is a ceremony marking what God has done.  The modern Christian ceremony is one of initiation into the Christian community, in which we are responsible for each other.  If we are adults when baptized, the rite marks our response to what God has done; if not, it signifies the recognition of adults responsible for us of their responsibility to raise us to respond favorably to God.  In the case of the latter, confirmation will follow at an appropriate age.

May we take our commitments to God and each other seriously.



Published originally in a nearly identical form at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on July 24, 2011

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