Archive for the ‘January 7’ Category

Devotion for January 7 and 8, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Blue Marble Apollo 17

Above:  Blue Marble, December 17, 1972

Image Source = NASA

The Glory of God, Filling the Earth, Part I

MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2019

TUESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2019

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty God, you gave us your only Son

to take on our human nature and to illumine the world with your light.

By your grace adopt us as your children and enlighten us with your Spirit,

through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 20

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Daniel 2:1-19 (Thursday)

Daniel 2:24-49 (Friday)

Psalm 72 (Both Days)

Ephesians 4:17-5:1 (Thursday)

Ephesians 5:15-20 (Friday)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Thanks be to the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,

for he alone does marvellous things.

Thanks be to the glorious name of God for ever,

his glory fills the earth.

Amen and amen.

–Psalm 72:18-19, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The prophecy of Daniel 2:44 seems problematic:

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall this kingdom be left to another people.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

“The days of those kings” refers to the era of the successors of the empire of Alexander the Great.  The conqueror had died after a brief reign.

So his officers took over his kingdom, each in his own territory, and after his death they all put on diadems, and so did their sons after them for many years, multiplying evils on the earth.

–1 Maccabees 1:8-9, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The last of those successor empires, the Ptolomaic Empire, based in Egypt, had ended in 30 B.C.E., becoming a province of the Roman Republic, which was transforming into the Roman Empire.  What, then, could the divine kingdom of Daniel 2:44 be?  Ancient Jewish speculations offered two possibilities–the Messiah and the people of Israel.  Christian interpretations have included the Messiah and the Church.  The latter is possible if one includes the Roman Empire as a successor kingdom to the empire of Alexander the Great, for Rome did spread Hellenism, the cultural legacy of Alexander, far and wide.

I cannot forget, however, a lament of the excommunicated Roman Catholic theologian Alfred Fermin Loisy (1857-1940).  Jesus promised us the Kingdom of God, Loisy wrote, and all we got was the Church.  If we understand the Kingdom of God as having been present on the Earth in a partially evident way for a long time Loisy’s lament becomes less potent yet remains relevant.  Christian history contains much that brings no glory to God–the Crusades, bigotry, discrimination, slavery, misogyny, legalism, anti-intellectualism, a suspicion of science, et cetera.  Much of that litany of shame exists in the category of current events.  Nevertheless, much of Christian history (as well as the Christian present day) is also positive, in the style of the readings from Ephesians, where we find the theme of imitating Christ.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the incarcerated and the hospitalized, welcoming the stranger, et cetera–in short, recognizing the image of God in others then acting accordingly–bring glory to God.  In those and other deeds the partially unveiled Kingdom of God becomes visible and God’s glory fills the Earth.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015 COMMON ERA

PROPER 20–THE SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF HENRI NOUWEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HENRY COLERIDGE PATTESON, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MELANESIA, AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF NELSON WESLEY TROUT, FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN U.S. BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/the-glory-of-god-filling-the-earth-part-i/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Advertisements

Devotion for January 7, 8, and 9, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

GFS_8086

Above:  Good Friday Pilgrimage for Immigrants, Atlanta, Georgia, April 18, 2014

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Living Faithfully

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 2018

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God, you revealed the incarnation of your Son by the brilliant shining of a star.

Shine the light of your justice always in our hearts and over all lands,

and accept our lives as the treasure we offer in your praise and for your service,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 21

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 1:22-2:10 (January 7)

Exodus 2:11-25 (January 8)

Exodus 3:7-15 (January 9)

Psalm 110 (All Days)

Hebrews 11:23-26 (January 7)

Hebrews 11:27-28 (January 8)

John 8:39-59 (January 9)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand,

until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The LORD will send the scepter of your power out of Zion,

saying, “Rule over your enemies round about you.

Princely state has been yours from the day of your birth;

in the beauty of holiness have I begotten you,

like dew from the womb of the morning.”

The LORD has sworn and he will not recant:

“You are a priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek,”

The Lord who is at your right hand

will smite kings in the day of his wrath;

he will rule over nations.

He will heap high the corpses;

he will smash heads over the wide earth.

He will drink from the brook beside the road;

therefore he will lift high his head.

–Psalm 110, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tradition attributes authorship of Psalm 110 to David.  One cannot be certain of the veracity of that claim, given the tendency of many people from Biblical times to attribute authorship to the famous dead regardless of who actually wrote a given text.  That issue is a minor point, however.  A Hebrew monarch has won a military victory, hence the content and tone of the text.  One can read the poem and identify passages germane to both Moses and Jesus, as well as those irrelevant to each person.  We read of Moses smiting in Exodus, for example.  And Jesus, like the king in the Psalm, sits enthroned at the right hand of Yahweh.

One might also compare Moses and Jesus, as the author of the Gospel of Matthew did frequently.  Both men were, for example, far more than they appeared to be; they were deliverers and princes, although not of the same variety.  No, Jesus was (and remains) far greater than Moses, for our Lord and Savior’s “I am” (John 9:58) carries the same meaning as “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).  Jesus was the human incarnation of the deity who spoke to Moses.

Both men had to decide between a faithful life and a safer, more comfortable one.  They chose well, to the benefit of many people.  You and I, O reader, will probably not receive the mandate to liberate a large population.  We will certainly not have the vocation to redeem the world.  Yet we do have to decide between following God and doing otherwise.  The faithful path can be a dangerous and frequently uncomfortable one, but it is the superior way.  God calls us to act for the benefit of others, even when many of them reject God and us by extension.  But, as Charles William Everest (1814-1877) wrote in 1833:

“Take up thy cross,” the Savior said;

“if thou wouldst my disciple be,

take up thy cross with willing heart

and humbly follow after me.”

+++++

Take up thy cross, let not its weight

fill thy weak spirit with alarm;

his strength shall bear thy spirit up,

and brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

+++++

Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,

and let thy foolish pride be still;

the Lord refused not e’en to die

upon a cross, on Calv’ry’s hill.

+++++

Take up thy cross and follow Christ,

nor think till earth to lay it down,

for only they who bear the cross

may hope to wear the glorious crown.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 12, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSAPHAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF POLOTSK, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHARLES SIMEON, ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF RAY PALMER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ARTHUR DUNKERLEY, BRITISH NOVELIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/living-faithfully/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for January 7 and 8, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   3 comments

Cptvdisplay

Above:  Television Sets for Sale

Image in the Public Domain

Responsibility for Others

JANUARY 7 and 8, 2020

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God, you revealed the incarnation

of your Son by the brilliant shining of a star.

Shine the light of your justice always in our hearts and over all lands,

and accept our lives as the treasure we offer in your praise and for your service,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 21

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 10:1-13 (January 7)

1 Kings 10:14-25 (January 8)

Psalm 72 (both days)

Ephesians 3:14-21 (January 7)

Ephesians 4:7, 11-16 (January 8)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Give the king your justice, O God,

and your righteousness to the king’s son;

that he may rule your people righteously

and the poor with justice;

that the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,

and the little hills bring righteousness.

–Psalm 72:1-3, Book of Common Worship (1993)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The great power of King Solomon came with great responsibility–to build up the body of the kingdom, to function as an instrument of God, and not to exploit anyone or to consent to the exploitation of anyone.  Sometimes he came close to fulfilling parts of this ideal, but his royal lifestyle depended on high rates of taxation as well as on forced labor; it was inherently exploitative.

I have become increasingly conscious of how much my lifestyle–as simple as it is–depends upon human exploitation.  For example, who made my consumer electronics?  Under what conditions?  How old were they?  And did they earn a living wage?  Although I purchased most of these items at thrift stores and received a flat-screen television as a gift (quite unexpectedly; I was content with the larger set I had purchased from a pawn shop in 2002), I cannot help but ask such questions.  Greater responsibility resides upon the shoulders of corporate leaders, of course, but I am not innocent.

On the other hand, perhaps the only sure way to avoid such ethical issues is to live off the land, make everything myself, and live in a hut or a cave.  I am not willing to do that.

All of us are plugged into certain ways of doing things.  We might not have created such systems, but we are part of them.  And change begins with the consciousness of the need for it.  This change can come through us by grace, for there is available to us divine power which,

working in us, can do infinitely more that we can ask or imagine.

–Ephesians 3:20b, The New Jerusalem Bible

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 COMMON ERA

LABOR DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF HANNAH, MOTHER OF SAMUEL

THE FEAST OF DAVID CHARLES, WELSH CALVINISTIC METHODIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF NEW GUINEA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WILLIAM OF ROSKILDE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/09/06/responsibility-for-others-2/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

An Invitation to Observe a Holy Epiphany and Season after Epiphany   Leave a comment

Above:  Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, Georgia, January 8, 2012

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Liturgical time matters, for it sacramentalizes days, hours, and minutes, adding up to seasons on the church calendar.  Among the frequently overlooked seasons is the Season after Epiphany, the first part of Ordinary Time.  The Feast of the Epiphany always falls on January 6 in my tradition.  And Ash Wednesday always falls forty days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday.  The Season after Epiphany falls between The Feast of the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday.  In 2013 the season will span January 7-February 12.

This season ought to be a holy time, one in which to be especially mindful of the imperative to take the good news of Jesus of Nazareth to others by a variety of means, including words when necessary.  Words are meaningless when our actions belie them, after all.  Among the themes of this season is that the Gospel is for all people, not just those we define as insiders.  No, the message is also for our “Gentiles,” those whom we define as outsiders.  So, with that thought in mind, I encourage you, O reader, to exclude nobody.  Do not define yourself as an insider to the detriment of others.  If you follow this advice, you will have a proper Epiphany spirit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 9, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MARTIN CHEMNITZ, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF BARTON STONE, COFOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Devotion for January 7 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   6 comments

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

And the Glory of the Lord Shall Be Revealed

JANUARY 7, 2020

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Assigned Readings:

Ezekiel 1:1-14, 22-28

Psalm 5 (Morning)

Psalms 84 and 29 (Evening)

Romans 1:1-17

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; it is God’s power for the salvation of everyone who has faith–Jesus first, but Greeks as well–for in it is revealed the saving justice of God:  a justice based on faith and addressed to faith.  As it says in scripture:  Anyone who is upright through faith will live.

–Romans 1:16-17, The New Jerusalem Bible

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ezekiel struggled with the questions of why God had allowed the destruction of the First Temple, Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of Judah.  The situation looked grim.  It was grim.  Yet, the prophetic book said, God’s promises are sure and the divine work of transforming the world and its social orders and arrangements will come to fruition for the benefit of people and the glory of God.

Judaism survived the cataclysm of the Babylonian Exile and a new Temple came to occupy space where the original one had stood.  And so it happened that, in the first century CE, Christianity began to emerge from Judaism.  The message of salvation by faith via Jesus, Paul wrote, was for the Jews first but also for Gentiles.

This faith is inherently active, leading to deeds.  It cannot be any other way, for such as we think, so we are.  And this faith, which comes from God without cost to us, requires much–a positive response–from us.  This theme of faith recurs in the epistle and frames much of that letter’s content.

Think about it:  After destruction comes rebuilding.  The light is for all people, not just the designated (self- or otherwise) spiritual elites.  There is always reason for hope in grace.  And nobody is part of the riff-raff in a grace-filled context.  A positive faith response to God requires us to, among other things, lay aside human categories and barriers which make us feel good about ourselves yet label others as “unclean” and “unworthy.”  All of us are actually unworthy, so who are we to judge each other?

May we recognize the glory of God in each other and in ourselves then act accordingly.  We are God’s, not our own.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 12, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THE GREAT, BISHOP OF ROME

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/and-the-glory-of-the-lord-shall-be-revealed/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God of glory,

as we prepare to study the Bible,

may we approach the texts with our minds open,

our intellects engaged,

and our spirits receptive to your leading,

so that we will understand them correctly

and derive from them the appropriate lessons.

Then may we act on those lessons.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY MELCHIOR MUHLENBERG, SHEPHERD OF LUTHERANISM IN THE AMERICAN COLONIES

THE FEAST OF FRED KAAN, HYMNWRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, ABOLITIONIST

Posted October 7, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 2019-2020, December 1, December 10, December 11, December 12, December 13, December 14, December 15, December 16, December 17, December 18, December 19, December 2, December 20, December 21, December 22, December 23, December 24: Christmas Eve, December 25: First Day of Christmas, December 26: Second Day of Christmas/St. Stephen, December 27: Third Day of Christmas/St. John the Evangelist, December 28: Fourth Day of Christmas/Holy Innocents, December 29: Fifth Day of Christmas, December 3, December 30: Sixth Day of Christmas, December 31: Seventh Day of Christmas/New Year's Eve, December 4, December 5, December 6, December 7, December 8, December 9, February 1, February 10, February 11, February 12, February 13, February 14, February 15, February 16, February 17, February 18, February 19, February 2, February 20, February 21, February 22, February 23, February 24, February 25, February 26, February 27, February 28, February 29, February 3, February 4, February 5, February 6, February 7, February 8, February 9, January 10, January 11, January 12, January 13, January 14, January 15, January 16, January 17, January 18, January 19, January 1: Eighth Day of Christmas/Holy Name of Jesus/New Year's Day, January 20, January 21, January 22, January 23, January 24, January 25, January 26, January 27, January 28, January 29, January 2: Ninth Day of Christmas, January 30, January 31, January 3: Tenth Day of Christmas, January 4: Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 5: Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 6: Epiphany, January 7, January 8, January 9, March 1, March 2, March 3, March 4, March 5, March 6, March 7, March 8, March 9, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 30

Tagged with

First Sunday after the Epiphany: The Baptism of Our Lord, Year B   14 comments

Above:  Ubari Oasis in Libya

The Waters of Life

JANUARY 7, 2018

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Genesis 1:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said,

Let there be light;

and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Psalm 29 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Ascribe to the LORD, you gods,

ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;

worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;

the God of glory thunders;

the LORD is mighty upon the waters.

4 The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;

the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees;

the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD splits the flames of fire;

the voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;

the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe

and strips the forest bare.

9 And in the temple of the LORD

all are crying, “Glory!”

10 The LORD sits enthroned above the flood;

the LORD sits enthroned as King for evermore.

11 The LORD shall give strength to his people;

the LORD shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Acts 19:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  He said to them,

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?

They replied,

No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.

Then he said,

Into what then were you baptized?

They answered,

Into John’s baptism.

Paul said,

John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.

On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  When Paul had laid his hands on them, they spoke in tongues and prophesied–altogether there were about twelve of them.

Mark 1:4-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed,

The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

In those days Jesus came down from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven,

You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

The Collect:

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some Related Posts:

First Sunday after the Epiphany:  The Baptism of Our Lord, Year A:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/first-sunday-after-the-epiphany-the-baptism-of-our-lord-year-a/

Apollos:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/

Genesis 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/09/week-of-5-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Mark 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/eighth-day-of-advent-second-sunday-of-advent-year-b/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Water carries much symbolic meaning in the Bible.  The beautiful opening mythology in Genesis assumes that the Earth is founded upon the waters and that waters occupy the space on the other side of the dome of the sky.  So it is that, early in Genesis 1, a wind–the Spirit–from God moves across the face of the primordial waters.  Later, in Exodus, the Hebrew nations is born when it crosses the Sea of Reeds out of Egypt and into the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula.  Indeed, water was especially precious to those Biblical people who lived in or near the desert; water was essential for life.  This comes across in Psalm 1:3, for example:

They [“they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor lingered in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seats of the scornful”] are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither;

everything they do shall prosper.

(1979 Book of Common Prayer, page 585)

A survival techniques website I have consulted says that one, depending on circumstances, for months without any food.  Yet one’s body requires water daily; indeed, one can survive on just a few quarts of water for days or weeks in some environments.  So there are excellent reasons for the association of water with spiritual life.

Many people think of baptism as something we do.   Yes, we perform the sacramental rite baptism, but it is a sacrament.  As the catechism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer says regarding the sacraments,

The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

Grace, in turn, is

God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

(This material comes from pages 857 and 858 of the Prayer Book.)

Baptism is something God does, and the ritual we perform is a rite of Christian initiation, a ceremony of formal admission to the family of God.  Baptism is properly communal, not individual, in nature.  This is why the gathered congregation takes part in the baptism of a person.

God became human in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, who sought the baptism of John the Baptist.  Hence Jesus identified with us.  It is proper, then, that we identify with him.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/the-waters-of-life/