In my tradition, we celebrate Baptism of Our Lord Sunday on the second Sunday of January. We read Matthew 3:13-17 to guide our worship, but this year we specifically read it from “The Message.” (You can access “The Message” on www.BibleGateway.com if you want to check it out.) It’s one of my favorite days in the life of the church, which is what I say about approximately 40 Sundays a year — but it’s true!
I love this Sunday because I love anything related to sacraments, when grace becomes something we can touch!
I love that this is one of just a few places in scripture where we see the Trinity on full display: Jesus standing in the water, God parting the heavens to speak, and the Spirit coming close in the form of a dove!
I love remembering Jesus’s baptism because it helps me to feel connected to Jesus and to faithful disciples around the world and throughout time! The water that comes out of the kitchen sink is the very same water created when God spoke it into being while the Spirit hovered over it.
I love Baptism of our Lord Sunday because I believe that God is still speaking to us, calling us beloved. I am always listening really, really closely for God’s voice on days when we celebrate baptism.
I also love this day because it marks the start of Jesus’ public ministry. When he steps out of the river, Jesus goes straight into the wilderness for 40 days. When he emerges from that time, he’s ready to fulfill his purpose.
John the Baptizer, however, isn’t feeling so ready. He has baptized scores of sinners, and he can preach a fire and brimstone sermon like no one else! But when Jesus comes to be baptized, his cousin John is humbled, overwhelmed, and confused. In “The Message” translation in particular, Jesus doesn’t show one iota of compassion in John’s moment of hesitation! Instead Jesus insists, “Do it.” (Read Matthew 3:15 again.) Apparently he was convincing because we read, “So John did it.”
I have a theory. I can’t prove it, but it sure plays out in my life time and again. It goes like this: If you are comfortable with what God is calling you to do, you haven not gotten the whole message yet!
Lately I’m hearing Jesus say, “Do it!” I wonder what challenging, life-changing, world-transforming thing God is parting the heavens to ask you to do. Do you know?
Maybe it’s saying “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you,” or “goodbye,” or “yes!”
Maybe you are being called to shake off complacency, to refuse to live in denial, or to take a step to do something about the injustice that you can no longer ignore.
Maybe it’s heading down a new path even though you have no idea where it will lead.
It could be anything, but you’ll have to listen and hear it for yourself. I can’t tell you what your call or ministry is, but I can assure you of this: When you begin to follow it, God will delight! And every step along the way of living that call, God delights in you! For Jesus and John alike, it all started with baptism. Maybe it’s the same for us.