Living the Word

Jesus’ Healing Waters

January is one of the worst winter months in the Midwest of the United States. Ironically, days where the sun is shining brightly are often the most bitterly cold. Inches of snow and ice replace the warm and cozy wonderland of Christmas—icicles instead of ornaments, jumper cables instead of stockings, and lots and lots of lip balm.

In many parts of the world, however, Christmas hasn’t happened until January 6, when Epiphany celebrations recall the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. If we study the history of the Christian calendar, we discover that January contains a good many feasts and celebrations—from the naming of Jesus (January 1) to remembering his baptism (January 7), to telling the story of his miraculous act of turning water into wine at Cana.

If December is oriented toward the birth of an infant during Advent and Christmastide, January seems focused on asking, “Just who is this Jesus going to become?” And like the chill of January winds along drifts of snow, the answer is potent: The Magi are clear. Anna and Simeon know. Herod carries out infanticide because he is afraid of the answer. Jesus is God’s beloved, whose presence in the world brings illumination, possibility, and change.

Malinda Elizabeth Berry is a dissertation fellow at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.

January 7
Baptism by the Elements
Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Oceans, rivers, groundwater, mist, clouds, rushing streams of melted snow—water renews everything that has life.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2007
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