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A Word for this Week - Pastor Bill Mugnolo

Week of January 14-20, 2019: “Three Part Harmony” … Luke 3:21-22

Since I have a daughter who is a Music Major in college, I have learned how to appreciate vocal performance. One type of vocal music is the trio. One singer will start off with the melody line. Later, the other two will join in as one, most often, will sing harmony while other will sing the bass (or alto) line. Together, they produce a three-part harmony that is “music to the ears.”

A three-part harmony: In a sense, this is what took place at the Baptism of Our Lord. Jesus, as He prayed after His baptism in the Jordan River, started off with the “melody line” (Luke 3:20). Then, once the heavens were opened the Holy Spirit joined as the “harmony” line descending in the form of a dove (Luke 3:20-21). Then, you could almost picture the Father as a “resounding bass” as He proclaimed of Jesus, “You are my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:20-21).

This “trio performance” at Our Lord’s Baptism was truly a sign of how the Holy Trinity works “in concert” with one another. Creation is a work that we assign primarily to the Father—as we confess in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. But the son and the Holy Spirit were involved as well (Genesis 1:2. 26-27; John 1:1-3). Redemption, while primarily the work of the Son, was accompanied by the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 10:30, Hebrews 9:14). Likewise, the work of bringing us to faith and leading us to grow in it, while principally the work of the Holy Spirit, also involves all three persons of the Triune God (Matthew 28:19).

In the last of the above passages cited, we see the three-art harmony of the Holy Trinity at our own baptisms. While a number of Church bodies see Baptism as what we do for God as a “symbol” of our salvation, Lutheran Christians believe, teach, and confess, that Baptism is what the Triune God does for us. Martin Luther writes extensively about this in his Small Catechism. Then, as we read in 1 Peter 3:21, “Baptism … now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

The First Sunday after the Epiphany is traditionally celebrated as the Baptism of Our Lord. May this time in the Church’s year also be a celebration of our own Baptisms where we were touched and transformed though the three-part harmony of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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