Epiphany: Jesus’ Baptism

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Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water …”

— John 4:13-15, ESV.

The water that wells up to eternal life is baptism.  Baptism is living water made alive by the word of God.  And through this water Christ grants his eternal life and righteousness to all who believe.

One of the first celebrations of Epiphany is of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

In order to fulfill all righteousness, he took our place.  He submitted to John’s baptism in the Jordan river.  John’s baptism was for repentance, and in this way Jesus took our sin, and identified completely with us sinners.  He began his ministry by taking our place, and becoming our substitute.  He became the Lamb of God.  (Genesis 2:8).

When we were baptized, the water washed our sins away.  When Jesus was baptized, he accepted our sins from the water as his own.  John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  (John 1:29, ESV).

To Jordan’s river came our Lord,
The Christ, whom heavenly hosts adored,
The God from God, The Light from Light,
The Lord of glory, power, and might.

The Savior came to be baptized
The Son of God in flesh disguised
To stand beneath the Father’s will
And all His righteousness fulfill.

Then from God’s throne with thunderous sound
Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is My Son,” was His decree,
“The one I love, who pleases Me.”

The Father’s word, the Spirit’s flight
Anointed Christ in glorious sight
As God’s own choice, from Adam’s fall
To save the world and free us all.

— “To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord,” LSB 405:1-2, 4-5.

Blessed Epiphany.

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The Difference Sunlight Can Make

Spotty rain clouds were sailing over the peaks while we hiked over the mountains on the Cub Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Taking photos was a challenge because the sun would come out, then hide behind a cloud, then come out again, and on and on.  Often, I saw a shot, took my camera out, turned it on, lined it up, got focus, and whoosh another cloud.  This happened repeatedly.

Clouds have their own beauty, and spotty clouds scraping the mountain peaks can be quite breathtaking especially when they cause the sunlight to fall in beams or crepuscular rays.  Nonetheless, a cloudy diffused light often doesn’t make the best photograph.  I am posting the following two photographs taken only moments apart to demonstrate the difference sunlight can make.

In this top photo, the sun is blocked and diffused by clouds.

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In the photo below, the sun is shining through the clouds.

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These two pictures were taken almost at the same time and from almost the same spot.  As the wisdom of Scripture says, “Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:7, ESV).

As a final note, there was a big forest fire around Cub Lake the year prior to this hike.  Some careless campers let a fire get out of control, and it burned this entire area.  If the tree roots holding the rock and soil in place on the mountain slope rot away before new trees take their place, there could be landslides, and this would become a different place.  So far at least as of last Autumn, the trees were burned and dead, but the wood and roots were still solid and strong.

Let us walk in the light, and let us always enjoy God’s blessings while we have them.

Wheat

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Golden light shines over a wheat field.

“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”

— Genesis 8:22, NKJV.

This is God’s promise to us.  All of God’s promises can be trusted because His word of promise is as powerful as His word of creation.  Every seedtime and every harvest and every season and every day testifies to the power of His word.

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The greatest promise God ever made to us was His promise of Jesus.  Jesus is the Bread of life.

Photographing Outdoor Christmas Lights

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The best time to take pictures of outdoor Christmas lights is in the snow right after sunset.  That way the camera can record a good balance of interesting light.

During the day, the holiday lights will often be overwhelmed.  At night, the lights will stand out, but most everything else will be pitch black.  Christmas lights look best in a twilight setting, preferably next to a warmly illumined church or home.  Especially appreciated are days with a sweet twilight winter blue.

Red, white, and green decorations provide a nice color contrast.

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Snow also brightens up a scene by reflecting light from the sky and the decorations.  In the photograph above, notice how the snow on the ground and the tree trunks adds to the interesting light.  Also, the snow on the house is blue, while the snow on the tree trunk is lit up by the red tree.  It adds depth, and makes for an interesting contrast of color and light.  Interesting light is what photography is all about.

The snow also provides a blank slate making the world fresh and new.  Instead of darkness, the world is clean, crisp, new, and white.  It is a clean slate upon which to shine new light.

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Putting up holiday lights can be an act of worship.  The Good Book says, “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”  (Psalm 141:2, NKJV).  Christmas lights are put up in celebration of the birth of the Savior.  May their light rise to heaven as a prayer, and may they illuminate the hearts of men by symbolizing the true Light of the world, Jesus.

Through the wonder of internet photography, the light from these trees can now travel around the world.

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Merry twelve days of Christmas!  Happy New Year!

Christmas ends on January 5.  The first day of Epiphany is January 6.  Epiphany is also a festival of revelation and light.

Excerpt from “Through the Looking-Glass”

The following is an excerpt from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll.  It is a conversation between Alice and the White Queen:

“I’m seven and a half exactly.”

“You needn’t say ‘exactually,'” the Queen remarked: “I can believe it without that.  Now I’ll give you something to believe.  I’m just one hundred and one, five months and a day.”

“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the Queen said in a pitying tone.  “Try again: draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed.  “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.  “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

The White Queen is of course mad.  She can believe anything because she chooses her beliefs.

Sin is a sort of dark madness through which we often delude ourselves.  Contrariwise, the truth is a rock.  We receive truth as a gift, not a choice.  (James 1:17-18).

Light is Sweet

“Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”

— Ecclesiastes 11:7.

This is a picture of sun rays taken from the White River Bike Trail near Springfield, WI.

The Eye Sees a Flower

The eye does not tell the world what it is.  In relation to the world the eye is like faith in relation to God: it receives.  God gives beauty, the eye receives beauty.  God gives truth, faith receives truth.

If the eye is good, the whole body is full of light.  If the eye is bad, the whole body is full of darkness.

We do not tell blind people to “look harder.”  Instead we heal the blind with the word of God.  God’s word of promise creates faith and makes the blind to see.

Through the gift of the eye we see the Giver of faith, the Creator of the eye, the Revelator of truth, the Light itself, Truth itself, Jesus.