Morning Service for Epiphany 1 – Baptism of Christ 2022


In Epiphany the church has traditionally remembered the great showings of the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. First, when he was shown to the Wise Men; then when he was shown as the Son of God, his Beloved, in his Baptism; next when at the wedding in Cana he was shown to be capable of miraculous signs; and last when he was shown to the Simeon and Anna in the Temple. 

HYMN – O thou who camest from above NEH 431/AMR 329 – Hereford 

1 O Thou who camest from above,

The pure celestial fire to impart,

Kindle a flame of sacred love

On the mean altar of my heart.

2 There let it for thy glory burn

With inextinguishable blaze,

And trembling to its source return

In humble prayer, and fervent praise.

3 Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

To work, and speak, and think for thee;

Still let me guard the holy fire,

And still stir up the gift in me.

4 Ready for all thy perfect will,

My acts of faith and love repeat,

Till death thy endless mercies seal,

And make my sacrifice complete

Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen


Christ the light of the world has come to dispel the darkness of our hearts. In his light let us examine ourselves and confess our sins.
Lord of grace and truth, we confess our unworthiness
to stand in your presence as your children.
We have sinned:

Forgive and heal us.

The Virgin Mary accepted your call to be the mother of Jesus.
Forgive our disobedience to your will.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

The wise men followed the star to find Jesus the King.
Forgive our reluctance to seek you.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

Your Son our Saviour in humility accepted the baptism of John.
Forgive our pride and rejection of your ways.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

At a wedding in Cana Jesus changed water into wine.
Forgive our failure to let your transforming presence change us.
We have sinned:
Forgive and heal us.

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen


Eternal Father,

who at the baptism of Jesus

revealed him to be your Son,

anointing him with the Holy Spirit:

grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit,

that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen

FIRST READING – Isaiah 43.1-7

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

HYMN – Come down, O love divine NEH 137/AMR 235  – Down Ampney

1 Come down, O Love divine,

Seek thou this soul of mine,

And visit it with thine own ardour glowing;

O Comforter, draw near,

Within my heart appear,

And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

2 O let it freely burn,

Till earthly passions turn

To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;

And let thy glorious light

Shine ever on my sight,

And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

3 Let holy charity

Mine outward vesture be,

And lowliness become mine inner clothing;

True lowliness of heart,

Which takes the humbler part,

And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

4 And so the yearning strong,

With which the soul will long,

Shall far outpass the power of human telling;

For none can guess its grace,

Till it become the place

Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

GOSPEL – Luke 3.15-17,21,22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptise you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Now when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”


In Epiphany the church has traditionally remembered the great showings of the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry. First, when he was shown to the Wise Men; then when he was shown as the Son of God, his Beloved, in his Baptism; next when at the wedding in Cana he was shown to be capable of miraculous signs; and last when he was shown to the Simeon and Anna in the Temple. 

Today we remember the Baptism of Jesus.  This effectively marks the beginning of Jesus’ work as an itinerant preacher, the beginning of his life ‘on the road’.  For the writers of St John’s Gospel and St Mark’s Gospel this is the beginning, this is where they take up the story.

But the Baptism of Jesus is full of problems.  If you were a theologian you would certainly not want to invent it.  If we consider what Baptism is for a moment, or rather what it was, before we somewhat muddied the waters – if you’ll pardon the pun – by baptising our babies. Baptism was the symbolic turning from the sins of the past, washing them all away as you descended into, and under the water, then came up out of the water, washed clean, made new.  Many of the world’s faiths employ a ritual of washing and renewal, giving it a similar interpretation – theirs though is usually frequently required, repeated annually or even daily before prayer.

The problem for the church was that if Jesus was sinless, why should he be baptised.  He who was sinless could hardly need to be washed clean in redemptive water.  And even worse, how could John perform this rite for him.  The Gospel writers tackle the problems in different ways.

If you read John’s version of the Baptism you won’t actually find any account of Jesus in the water – John the Baptist is only a witness to the descent of the Spirit. Matthew acknowledged the problem, explaining it with the thought that it was necessary for the fulfilment of all ‘righteousness.’  But none of the Gospels fully address the problem how was it that Jesus needed to be baptised – what was the righteousness that needed to be fulfilled.  Maybe it was self-evident to them.

To understand the significance of this action of Jesus we need to understand what Baptism meant, not to the early church but to those John was calling to be baptised in the river Jordan.  

Baptism was used in Judaism in a very limited way; it was used specifically in order to admit into the faith a non-Jew, a Proselyte.  By baptising Jews John the Baptist was proclaiming a renewal of Israel by a concrete act of repentance, he was inaugurating a New Age, gathering together a holy people of God who affirmed in an act of commitment that they were ready for its coming.  

It was of course natural, essential even, for Jesus to associate himself with this movement and to join those who were looking for the coming of this new age – what he would come to call the kingdom of God.  In his complete humility he did not assume control of this movement, only to be a part of it – it was the proclamation of God that declared him Son, and the descent of the Spirit that anointed him as its Lord.

With the coming of the new kingdom there is a new proclamation – Repent and believe.  Repent because the kingdom is all about a new beginning, leaving the past and its failures behind; and believe, because the kingdom is inaugurated not in palaces and temples but in the hearts of men and women. And only belief opens those hearts to the call and the grace of God.

Our participation in the kingdom, our citizenship of it, begins when we say ‘I believe’, when, as Jesus did at his baptism, we recognise the call of God, and respond.  It continues, when with each new day we discover more of its challenge and respond.  It spreads, when we live its demands, when in word and deed we proclaim its power, and so bring others to respond.  And it takes flight when we believe with all our heart and soul and strength what Isaiah knew to be true, and expressed in vivid metaphor:

‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

When you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

And the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God, the holy one Israel, your Saviour.’

Lord we believe, help thou our unbelief. 


Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried;
he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles:
this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.

1 Corinthians 15.3-7


We have come together into the presence of our Lord. So, let us quieten our hearts and minds, put aside our concerns and distractions, and open ourselves to listen for God’s voice,

Loving God, we pray for all who are pushed to their limits at work and at home, for hospital staff, for all in the emergency services, for GP’s, teachers and school staff, and for all whose mental health is at breaking point. We pray for our Government whose decisions affect millions of lives.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for the churches in our benefice, and especially for William, Warwick, Keith and all those who minister to us. We pray, for our Wardens, Treasures and members of the PCCs.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Comfort and heal all those who suffer in body, mind or spirit.  Give them courage and hope in their troubles and bring them the joy of your salvation. We remember particularly those who are ill in our benefice……………… and ask that you support and protect them and their family, friends and carers.

We pray for all those who have lost their lives in recent weeks. We remember the family and friends who have lost loved ones recently and we ask that your presence brings them comfort, strength and hope in their grief.

Lord in your mercy hear our prayer

Lord, teach us to recognise your voice. Teach us how to know your presence in our lives and encounters. Help us to give others space so that they may hear you too.

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN – Hail to the Lord’s anointed NEH 55/219 – Cruger

1 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed!

Great David’s greater Son;

Hail, in the time appointed,

His reign on earth begun!

He comes to break oppression,

To set the captive free;

To take away transgression,

And rule in equity.

2 He comes with succour speedy

To those who suffer wrong;

To help the poor and needy,

And bid the weak be strong;

To give them songs for sighing,

Their darkness turn to light,

Whose souls, condemned and dying,

Were precious in his sight.

3 He shall come down like showers

Upon the fruitful earth,

Love, joy, hope, like flowers,

Spring in his path to birth:

Before him on the mountains

Shall peace the herald go;

And righteousness in fountains

From hill to valley flow.

4 Kings shall fall down before him,

And gold and incense bring;

All nations shall adore him,

His praise all people sing;

To him shall prayer unceasing

And daily vows ascend;

His kingdom still increasing,

A kingdom without end.

5 O’er every foe victorious,

He on his throne shall rest,

From age to age more glorious,

All-blessing and all-blest:

The tide of time shall never

His covenant remove;

His name shall stand for ever;

That name to us is Love


May he who who by his incarnation 

gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, 

grant us the fullness of peace and goodwill 

and the blessing of God Almighty, 

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 

be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN Fight the good fight NEH 359/AMR 304 – Duke Street

1 Fight the good fight with all thy might,

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;

lay hold on life, and it shall be

thy joy and crown eternally.

2 Run the straight race 

through God’s good grace,

lift up thine eyes, and seek his face;

life with its way before us lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

3 Cast care aside, upon thy Guide

lean, and his mercy will provide;

lean, and thy trusting soul shall prove

Christ is its life, and Christ its love.

4 Faint not nor fear, his arms are near,

he changeth not, and thou art dear;

only believe, and thou shalt see

that Christ is all in all to thee.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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