By Joel A. Hess

Bath night. I still remember my mom announcing it after dinner. “Before anyone watches Happy Days, you have to get cleaned up.” I was fortunate. If I remember right, I got to take a bath first. Nice clear, warm water was waiting for me. But when I was done, the next kid got in. Why waste water? Each kid would take their turn. By the time the last one got in, that water wasn’t so clean looking. But it did the trick. My parents probably realized that the older the kid the more she would hesitate about getting in gray water. Who knows what was in that water by the time my youngest sister hopped in? Or more importantly, who knows what the youngest might leave in that water? Gross! This didn’t work as we got older. We knew better. No way am I going to get in the bath after my brother.

By Cindy Koch

She smiled as great grandpa offered his hands to hold the squirming little baby boy. Not just because he had become antsy after 45 minutes of a traditional church service where she did everything to keep her 8-month old quiet through reading and sermons and prayers. No, now she smiled because her son was clenched in the strong arms of the faithful who sat steadfast beside her.

By Paul Koch

The moment when our Lord steps into the waters of the Jordan River to be baptized by John is of great significance for the understanding of our faith. Here the identity and purpose of our Lord’s arrival come into focus. John the Baptist is doing what his namesake calls for him to do: He is baptizing. He is washing the repentant children of God in the Jordan River as a testimony of their confession of sins and their longing for a new hope in the coming Messiah. Remember, John is preparing the way for the Messiah. He is the voice calling out in the wilderness. Things are going well. People are flocking out to him, to be part of this new thing. But all of it takes a strange turn when Jesus enters into those waters. The people had been entering the water to repent and so be ready to receive the Christ, but why does Jesus enter? What does he have to repent of? What sins does he confess?