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Message for Sunday 10 January 2021: “Hearing God’s Voice”

Today’s message from Mark 1:4-11 emphasizes God’s presence during Jesus’ baptism, the second epiphany after the one involving adoration of Jesus by the wise men when Jesus was an infant.

The crucial moment in today’s story is what Jesus experienced when he was rising out of the water: “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’ “ (Mark 1:10-11).

Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River involved two key symbols of a dove and God’s voice, both of which highlight Jesus’ special spiritual status and together constitute a powerful epiphany, an appearance of God the Father affirming Jesus. Jesus’ baptism also heralded his initiation into public ministry. Even more so, the baptism was a rite of passage which in this distinctive case emphasized Jesus’ divinely-appointed role and purpose.

Jesus’ baptism constitutes an epiphany because of God’s presence via the dove and voice attesting to Jesus’ divine DNA. The dove is also a sign of peace, an association that continues to this day thousands of years since the biblical events. When Jesus sensed the dove it can be interpreted as a symbol of God’s presence vividly entering into the life of the Lord.

When God’s voice was heard during the baptism it is the first of only three times that the Almighty is described as communicating verbally during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The second time that God’s voice affirmed Jesus’ divine status was during the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5) and the third and final time was during near the end of Jesus ministry (John 12:28-29). That God spoke only three times may be due to Jesus role as God’s chief spokesman (hence God the Father’s voice serves mostly as a periodic affirmation of Jesus during crucial moments).

Now consider a shift from the Bible story to you, the real focus of today’s message. Have you ever experienced an epiphany? Many people claim to have had an encounter with God but so many issues impact perceptions that it renders the process highly subjective. Nonetheless, it is vital for you and other spiritually-inclined people to yearn for and embrace God’s presence. How you relate to God may be as unique as you are. Forge your own path while deriving inspiration from people who have vividly shared their divine reality.

There’s no legitimate substitute for embracing God. Without a spiritual awakening it becomes more likely that nefarious substitutes will creep in and displace, distract and disrupt you. Leverage the power of your spiritual nature to fill the voids. In accepting God’s Spirit you will have a vital ingredient leading to the best possible life, an existence of holistic wellbeing wherein you have health in body, mind and spirit.

Do you feel connected to God? Do you feel that you are spiritually aware? You can have a wonderful life. You can have the best life has to offer while providing hope to others. It’s not too late! Don’t give up on sensing that mysterious or compelling divine presence within yourself. Your challenge and privilege is feasting on spiritual soul food and sharing your blessings with those who hunger and thirst.

There’s no better time than now, at the first of the year, to get things right. Transcend the unholy trinity of fear, ignorance and anger, deadly states which more than ever have been pervasive in culture. Don’t allow anything or anyone to interfere with your personal epiphany as you experience God’s essence of love.

Even people who’ve grown up in the church have often felt that they are somehow unworthy or unprivileged when it comes to forging a connection with the Almighty. You are precious; you are unique and irreplaceable. All defeatist and negative messaging must be challenged and overcome.

More than ever, claim in 2021 God’s promises and possibilities. Push through internal and external resistance. Welcome God and God will come to you in a manner that miraculously empowers you for the best possible life.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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