Baptism of the Lord: January 10, 2021
December 15, 2020 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa
The Christmas season ends, and we move into the season of Epiphany. Yet the spirit of Christmas continues – the coming of Jesus Christ among us, the birth and rebirth of faith, hope, and love in the Lord, the light of God that shines in the silence and respite of darkness. Epiphany marks the period of receiving the revelation and disclosure that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God, the Beloved One, the Elect One, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
On this Baptism of the Lord Sunday (the Sunday on or after January 6), we hear, read, and see the disclosure of God’s love, of God’s will, of God’s speech in action. We “see” the creative beauty of God when the Lord speaks “Let there be light.” God ascribed goodness to what God fashioned and proceeded to name the light. That’s the divine prerogative of God – to speak, to create, to describe, to ascribe, to name. Far from the creation accounts in Genesis, laying out a detailed blueprint of the dynamics of God creating, Genesis evokes a worshipful response from God’s people. Here we have the starting point and the foundation of who we are from the very speech of God. Imagine that first sentence, “In the beginning when God created …” It’s not “In the beginning when a gaseous mixture of energy created …” Nor is it “In the beginning when human ingenuity and strategies created …”
It’s none of those. Thus saith the Lord, “In the beginning when God created …”
That’s what is being disclosed to us and to all of God’s people in every time and in every place, and, indeed to all of creation, whether God’s creation recognizes God or not. In the rapid-fire account of the Gospel according to Mark, there are two words offered: John the Baptizer’s word that bears witness to Jesus Christ, that it is the Christ who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And then the heavenly word declared at Jesus’s baptism, “You are My Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
These lectionary texts speak to us about creation and the Creator, God calling creation good and God calling God’s Son the Beloved One. This is about being made new, being called new and being renewed. This is about being included in the love, wisdom, and beauty of God.
Whether you are baptizing someone or being baptized yourself or part of a community that is renewing the baptismal covenant, this is a time to receive the gift of God for the people of God: the declarative word that God speaks into you and upon you and upon God’s people and upon the world, “You are loved. You are beloved.” How can we be certain of that? Because we are elected in the Elected One, Jesus the Christ.
Imagine our lives and the world around us when that truth, that reality is shared and is proclaimed, and when people lean into it. Healing takes place. Fresh starts can begin. New possibilities and new perspectives can be dreamed. Affirmation of who we were created to be is embraced. It’s a disclosure that transforms our lives and this world in profound ways – beloved daughters, beloved sons, children of God, siblings in the faith, the people of God, crowned a little lower than the angels, created in the image of God, baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Thus saith the Lord. Amen.