Happy New Year, everyone! I always find it funny how we celebrate a New Year, especially among all the “new year’s” we have throughout the calendar year. Aside from the school year, the church year, the tax year, the church budget year (which is the same as the calendar year but we somehow don’t look at until February), and the Lunar year, really I feel all new year’ed out.
I get that the new calendar year represents a new start, a new beginning perhaps, or a new chapter in our lives but I’ve always been of the mind that every day really should do that. And I also get that the new calendar year is like an anniversary of the Earth going around the sun, but unlike the other anniversaries that we celebrate, we didn’t do anything really to help the Earth along (except for not blowing it up… but we’ll see how this year turns out in that regard). I mean, we didn’t put up with anyone, we didn’t give birth to anyone, we didn’t accomplish anything except staying alive and go for the free trip around a really big, bright, and hot celestial body.
Yet we celebrate it anyway. Some in a big way.
But don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, now that I think about it more, maybe it kinda makes sense to celebrate as it’s been like a year since we’ve been in this part of space. It’s been 365 day since we’ve seen this side of the sun (ish). It’s been 525,600 minutes of daylight, midnights, laughter, and strife…. oh and love as well.
The point is, we are who we are, and we celebrate that we made yet another revolution around the sun, and while we did nothing to help this revolution to revolve, we recognise it and appreciate it.
Here we have the story of the baptism of Jesus, which is appropriate seeing as how it’s the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday. And the question I get a lot, of course, is “why did Jesus need to be baptized?” And I think the easiest way I can describe my thoughts around it, is to compare it with something else that we know about and are familiar with, like celebrating the New Year.
See, John the baptizer talked about his baptism of repentance, but Jesus’ baptism was one of the Holy Spirit. In that Jesus’ baptism was more of a celebration of who we are in the Spirit. I think this is why the heavens opened up and declared who Jesus is, and whose Jesus is.
I would say that a baptism of repentance is earned through repentance (making its name very appropriate). But the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift from God, declaring us God’s own beloved children. And we aren’t God’s children through or because of baptism, mind you, but we are baptized because we are God’s beloved children.
Much like how our celebrating the New Year has nothing to do with the New Year coming or not, or mean that we are somehow responsible for the Earth moving on its orbital trajectory, or that we’re doing anything more than simply going on for the ride, so baptism is more of a response to all God has already done, all God continues to do, and all God will do in the future. Baptism is the response to the recognition of God’s presence in our lives and God so graciously identifying us as God’s children.
So as we celebrate the New Year starting, we also celebrate our own baptisms, the baptism of Jesus, and that we even have the gift of baptism to begin with! Thanks be to God!
Have a great week, everyone!