By The Rev. Sherry Deets
The Baptism of our Lord – January 8, 2012
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” If you are looking for hope, then remember these words, dwell on them. For in a sentence they contain the entire good news of the Gospel. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Well, you say, that’s great for Jesus, but what about us? Here’s the great mystery of this day, which makes our Lord’s baptism worthy of a feast. Jesus accepts baptism as an act of solidarity with the entire human race. His baptism is an enactment for all the world to see, there on the banks of the Jordan, of what it means for the Word to become flesh there in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This is why the baptism story is also a Christmas story: it comes down to the same result as what happens on that silent night, holy night. In a single word, EMMANUEL. God with us. God for us. God among us.
God for us all. Every last one of us human beings, without regard to age, race, gender, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, handicap, or anything else. God for us all, down to the last and worst and ugliest sinner among us. God for us all, and if God is for us, then who dares to be against us? So, joy to the world, the Lord has come! And if you’re looking to find him, there he is! He just jumped into the river water to get baptized for the love of you and me.
The least we can do is jump in right after him. That’s what Christian baptism and living the baptismal life is all about. He engages in a life of solidarity with us. We can engage in a life of solidarity with him.
Our baptism into Jesus means we hear the same voice he hears. The same message from heaven is aimed at us. Joe or Sue or Pat or Bob, or whatever your name may be, God speaks to you as he speaks to Jesus, and says the same thing: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”
I’d like you to do me a favor. Or rather, yourself a favor. Write that message from heaven on your heart. Write it on your hand as though it were crib notes for a test. Write it on a piece of paper and slip it in your wallet or stick it in your bathroom mirror. Do whatever you have to do to remember this and not forget that God says to you personally: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”
Better yet, listen for that message. You don’t have to be up to your waist in river water to hear this message come at you like a bolt from heaven. Listen carefully to the cracks and crevices in your life, and by God’s grace, that message will sound forth. It may come as a whisper, it may come as a shout, and some days it may even seem like a mumble, but that message will be there, because it is a message to you that God does not withdraw or eradicate. What God does is keep saying it, whether or not you choose to listen: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”
Some people say that Christianity’s a matter of believing. There’s truth in that. Some people say that Christianity’s a matter of doing. There’s truth in that. But I want to add another piece, without which all the rest is sure to fall apart. Christianity’s also a matter of listening. Listening for the message from heaven. Listening for what Jesus heard at his baptism. Listening for the same message spoken to us day by day in the cracks and crevices of our lives: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.” Amen.
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