Sunday 9th January 2022
1st Sunday after Epiphany

Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

At the heart of today's readings is the event and account of the Baptism of Jesus. This marks the symbolic beginning of his adult earthly ministry, so might equally be described as marking a new phase in his working life. This might offer a parallel for worshippers to consider how their Christian baptism and identity commissions them for the role that they play in the world of work. What does it mean to serve God in a workplace context? How do we express and operate our working lives in a way that perceives them as fulfilling a commission from God? In what ways does the world of work mitigate against this or make it possible?

Although something of a departure from the core theme - each reading could be used to explore a particular perspective on the world of work that Christians often experience:

Old Testament (Isaiah): Work can sometimes be a place of trial and testing - through the words of the prophet, God promises to be with us in difficult places and circumstances.

Psalm: The world of work can sometimes expose us to questionable power structures. In particular there is great temptation within society to give undue ascendency to economic gain alone at the expense of other aspects of a wholesome prosperity. These words speak powerfully of God's authority and sovereignty.

Acts: The world of work can sometimes feel like an alien place, and not one where we would expect to find God already present and at work. Many Early Jewish Believers would equally have not expected to find God at work amongst Samarian people; these words remind us that we can discover God to be active in ways and places that we might not always anticipate. Where could this be true in our own experience?

We might also notice that one of many workplace images within Scripture, can be found in the words of John the Baptist. He speaks of the coming Messiah as a harvester who separates the wheat from the chaff. The working lives of a contemporary congregation might offer similar images of roles which involve sorting the good from the bad, the acceptable from the unacceptable, the safe from the unsafe etc. Examples might be test engineers, quality assurance inspectors, radiographers etc. These contemporary examples might offer a further bridge between the world of work and today's themes.