God speaks…God speaks! This story of the baptism of all of the people and the excitement that John felt upon seeing Jesus was charismatic…but then…God spoke! Have you ever heard the voice of God? Do you know anyone who has? The Psalmist certainly experienced the voice of God as it is described in Psalm 26…where even the trees writhe at the voice of God. And more than that…when God spoke the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit was visible…visible like the form of the dove….Something HUGE is happening…HUGE!Today we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. Yesterday was the celebration of epiphany…the celebration of the mysteries of the birth of our Savior that becomes knows around the world…a time when God works through humankind to share in a celebration of salvation…a time when God’s revelation came through a baby and not a grand king! God works in mysterious ways!
Jesus was baptized by John who was baptizing in preparation of the Lord’s coming. He was baptizing as a sign of repentance…but Jesus wasn’t a sinner? Jesus was perfect in his works and his ministry and in his life…there was no need for repentance….and then, God appears as a voice and as a dove and calls Jesus his beloved SON!
In the Old Testament, or the First Testament, God came through shikinah…or through light…He came to Moses in the burning bush and to the Israelites as a pillar of fire by night…And now…this is the voice of God…and everyone heard it! And people still hear it today…
I love baptisms…I love them because everyone is ready to watch and see what God will do through this tiny little baby in my hands…we can love the child and teach the child and share life with the child, but ultimately we are stewards of this child….At Kealee Andersen’s funeral, a child of God who was 3 years old, her mother said to me that she felt so very blessed. I smiled at her and she said…I was entrusted to love and care for her for three years and it was wonderful…from music to words to learning to love in new ways…That is what we are called to be…lovers of life, delighters in the word…all because of the mysterious actions that take place in baptism…
Why was Jesus baptized? Perhaps it was to open our hearts and eyes to hear the voice of God…that we too are beloved children of God…perhaps it is to begin a trust relationship with the one who never fails us…perhaps it is a mystery and we get the privilege having a Lord and Savior who loves us without ceasing and invites us into a journey of revelation…The world lives in this mystery today…this undying love of God…and the world hears God speak…we have heard many folks say that they have heard the voice of God…God reveals Godself in many and various ways…ways that are yet to be discovered by you and by me…what we do know is that God speaks to include, heal, love, and support us into a healthy life. When safety or exclusion or hurting others is the voice, then we must question it…but today…on the baptism of Jesus we hear a strong voice…the voice of a proud parent who cannot wait to be reunited with their child and so God says…You are my Son, the Beloved…with you I am well pleased.
This blessing is offered to us at our own baptism. Most of us cannot remember that moment as we were babies, and perhaps that is the comfort of watching others experience baptism…in the water and in the word, God speaks to us. God speaks to us through the love of a community who takes vows at our baptism…vows that will continually steward us so that we are able to make choices throughout our lives. And the congregation then becomes part of our family of believers…the family who prays for us, and loves us even when we do something wrong…the family who supports us when we are sick or sad or suffering. A family who can empathize grief and loss and then rejoice with us upon the homecoming. God speaks to us through worship and through prayer and even through life experiences.
Often times we miss the word of God because we have too much noise and clutter in our head and heart…we are busy with daily life and we forget to look at our Creator for help and guidance and when we finally remember to do so, we see that God had been there the entire time…maybe not as we willed it or prayed for God’s presence, but God is there loving us through our life and our choices and God is calling us to remember…that You are God’s children…beloved children of God and with you all God is well pleased….such comforting words to sinners…such comforting words of hope…words that have spoken to me for as long as I remember…words that bring it home that we have been created with the purpose of loving back and serving and sharing…Amen