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Related Bible reading(s): Luke 3.15-17,21-22

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Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues

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Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people

It’s a movie plot we’ve seen a thousand times: girl, down on her luck is introduced to man with fabulous wealth and (with a few sacrifices, costs and bumps along the way) they fall in love and live happily ever after… And we love it. We eat it up. Of course we do, or they wouldn’t keep making movies and TV shows with the same old tired plot. We’re all looking to be introduced to someone who will rescue us.

Perhaps this is the lie that countless girls and young women bought into when they were recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell to become part of Jeffrey Epstein’s “circle”. Women and girls who were kept in luxurious apartments, taken to paradise islands and raped repeatedly.

Sarah Ransome, a survivor of Maxwell & Epstein’s abuse, has spoken widely in the media this week during and following the trial and conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell. She says: “When I was deliberately targeted by the young woman that recruited me, I had no one in New York and I was a 22-year-old, I was a baby. I had just come from an abusive relationship, really abusive, and she befriended me, and that completely let my guard down. You know, I had been told, Jeffrey was such a wonderful kind man and he really loves helping young struggling talented people.” Sarah needed to be rescued and she had no idea that she would soon need rescuing from her ‘rescuers’.

In this week’s passage, we see a very different sort of introduction – John the Baptist introducing Jesus as the Messiah and then God the Father confirming the introduction as Jesus is baptised in the Jordan and God speaks words of love and affirmation over Him. Jesus, the rescuer has arrived.

Jesus doesn’t rescue us with wealth, fancy apartments, fabulous holiday destinations or couture fashion – in fact, we may find ourselves struggling as we follow Him. Jesus rescues us with something that can never be taken away and never used for abusive ends: unconditional love.

How can we begin to embody a sense of being loved? How can we help the young people we walk alongside to recognise where they are looking for a rescuer and point them into the safe arms of Jesus?

Jenny Cheung is a choir nut and missional pioneer ( and mum to three teenagers.

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