Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Water and Fire

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Water and Fire

Article excerpt

Genesis 1:1-.5; Psalm 29; Acts 19:1-7; Mark 1:4-11

The celebration of Jesus' baptism begins with a testimony to God as Creator, the source and master of both light and water. First, Genesis testifies that God not only created the heavens and earth, but brought forth order and light from chaos and darkness. "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." The psalmist follows with a testament to the God whose glory thunders even "over mighty waters." The trifecta of baptismal symbols finally concludes with Mark's narrative of the baptism, where the arrival of the Spirit descends from heaven "like a dove" (Mark 1:10).

Although Mark's description depicts the reign of God descending from on high, theologian James Cone observes that Jesus' baptism actually displays a new understanding of God's reign, one that is more horizontal than vertical. By being baptized with the masses, Cone writes in A Black Theology of Liberation, "Jesus embraces the condition of sinners, affirming their existence as his own. …

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