For the next couple of days we move on from the wedding at Cana to another Epiphany theme of revelation, that of Jesus being baptised. This was the occasion when according to all four gospel writers, the Holy Spirit appeared “like a dove”, and according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, God’s voice was heard calling Jesus God’s beloved son.
Today’s hymn is “The sinless one to Jordan came”. After four verses of the hymn paraphrasing the biblical accounts, the focus in the fifth changes to us, Jesus’s present-day disciples. In singing it, we ask God to let us “go forth with [him], a world to win” and to send the Holy Spirit “to shield [us] in temptation’s hour”. This reminds us that baptism is not merely a symbolic act of showing we believe in Christ, but a commitment (at least for those who are baptised as adults) to actively engage in God’s mission in the world.
It also acknowledges that when we do so, we face opposition – as Jesus was tempted by the Devil immediately after his baptism, so we find ourselves tempted (maybe only by distractions, maybe by something more sinister) whenever we set our face to work with God. We then need both the assurance of God’s love and the sense of his Spirit within us.