I know, I know, this is late. It has been a tough recovery period for me after Christmas. And with my family’s annual open house this past Sunday and the St. Michael’s service, well there just wasn’t enough energy in my body to hammer out one of these reflections.
But here I am, because as your pastor, this is what I do.
Maybe it is out of fear of being reprimanded. Maybe it is out of obligation to those who faithfully read. Or maybe it is just out of guilt for being such a procrastinator. Either case, I feel like these are texts that need to be looked at and reflected upon (hence this reflection). That, and the fact that this has been bugging me all week to actually get this done (now I’m pretty sure it is the guilt).
The event of Jesus’ baptism has always been somewhat of a contentious issue. Mostly because typically we think baptism as something that needs to be done to be welcomed into God’s kingdom, and we like to imagine that Jesus has always had this welcome seeing as how Jesus, the Word, was in the beginning with God and is God and all that stuff we read over Christmas.
But having this story paired with the other texts seems to shed a bit of light on it all (see what I did there?). In beginning, there was chaos. But then God put an order to that chaos, separating light from dark (and so forth throughout all of creation). The light didn’t do anything but it just was. It didn’t earn its light properties, it just has them. God called it into being and it was what it was (which is good, in case you didn’t catch it).
Then the story in Acts tells us about the Holy Spirit landing upon some random people. Paul helps them to see the gift of the Spirit, and from there they together rejoiced. Those random folk didn’t do anything but accept their need for the Spirit.
And back to the baptism of Jesus. Jesus comes out of the water and the Spirit descends on him like a dove, with that voice saying the very familiar “you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
Well, what did Jesus do up to this point? From our perspective… nothing. Nothing of note, nothing worth writing about, nothing that would or could have earned him the love from God… because that love was already there.
In the chaos, in the confusion, in the complexities of life, we are reminded in baptism that we are fully and wholly accepted and loved by God. Not because of anything we have done, but solely by the grace of God. It is God’s great gift to all of God’s beloved children.
So why was Jesus baptized? Because God loves him, just as God loves each and every one of us. Thanks be to God.
Have a great week (or what’s left of it), everyone!