Baptism Of The Lord Reflection: A Call To The Beloved
Baptism of the Lord – Year C – (Luke 3:1-15,21-22) –
Again and again; how many times, even as I receive grace upon grace, I do the things I do not wish as I left undone the work of Love, to have mercy and to show compassion.
This anguished call of God’s holy saint, Paul, is echoed in the cries of the eminent doctor of the church, Augustine. To know ourselves, from the greatest to the least, this is my cry as it is your cry, the cry of all humanity, the cry of God’s creatures, and the cry of the earth. This is our woundedness, the incoherence between will, intention, word, and action.
Looking to ourselves, all is darkness and loss, anger and pain, but for God, all things are indeed possible. Today we are given the image of our hope. As we gaze on Jesus we see total coherence, an alignment between will, intention, word, and action. This is what it means to be beloved, for God to take delight, for God’s Word and action to be in accordance with the blueprint for our lives.
There can be no discordance between Word that is also God’s blueprint, incarnated and given to us again and again. This Word is the source of all that is, the Spirit of God that is its active agent, that burning love that cleanses and brings joy. That is why God speaks in the form of commands that come into being: let there be light; you must and you must not; God’s own imperatives towards action that brings life to the full.
Unfortunately, we do not have the same coherence as Jesus, our direct seed of love through parents, grandparents, and carers come to us through woundedness. It is because of this that our intentions are muddied and unclear and very often formed by self-interest, selfishness, and misguided understanding of the will of God. Perhaps the greatest incoherence, usurping God’s imperative form of command to ourselves, the right of judgement and condemnation.
This is the nature of our human journey; the nature of our structures and organisations; the nature of religion itself… To claim for itself invincibility of right judgement, of orthodoxy. This is also the story of Scripture and the story of our woundedness; always claiming for ourselves that which can only be received as a gift. We bear the woundedness of our ancestors claim on the knowledge of good and evil. We bear the woundedness of our ancestors’ claim to eternal life. We bear the woundedness of our ancestors’ pride seeking to make a name for themselves by reaching into the heavens.
Jesus holds up a mirror for us to see the possibility of becoming that which we already are within, received at our very origins in the waters of life. The very breath of God, the Ruaha speaking us into being, calling us into becoming, begetting us also as Beloved.
Through baptism, each of us through blessing and healing of woundedness becomes a beloved son and a beloved daughter of God. Recalling and renewing our baptism is an acknowledgement of the awareness of this reality which becomes the driving force in our lives.
Through our baptism, each of us is called by the Spirit of Fire and Power, called by Love to become the Light in the world, giving birth to the Word within us. Through our Baptism we are called to go into all the world with boldness and confidence, to proclaim the Gospel in gratitude and peace, glorifying the Lord by our lives. Baptism is for us the crossroad between the Old and the New. A lived experience of God who speaks into our experiences, walking with us in the journey of our lives. This is God, the author and speaker of life; the Birther of the Cosmos, our first ancestor….both a Father and a Mother.
The journey of this New Year calls on us to walk again with Luke asking the question of “who is this God that Jesus makes known to us.’
Misdirection is possible; misdirection is a reality…the histories of our Religions and our Churches; the histories of our own families; all give ample evidence of misdirection, Illusion, and guilt. This misdirection is the bloodied history of those who lead us into the shadowy world of their own creation. Through this misdirection, we can no longer see and know Truth. The misdirection leads us to ‘miss the mark’, the meaning of sin.
Lord, teach us to first humble ourselves before you. Only after we have been baptised will the heavens be opened, the Spirit descends on us in bodily shape, like a dove, and your voice will proclaim that we are your Beloved and your favour rests on us. Lord, guide us to be silent when we would judge and condemn through our prejudice. Let this become a reality in our lives as we pray every day that we may not judge that we ourselves may not be judged. Then, like Jesus, we will be ready to commit ourselves to the new venture you have called us to.
Lord, forgive us that as a Church we tend to come to others with feelings of superiority. Help us rather see your son Jesus in whatever culture, Ethnic group, race, or social class you invite us to enter.
Let us become God’s blessing present in the world in our intentions, in our words, and in our actions. As we walk towards this maturity as your disciples, help us to maintain silence until our words can bring true blessing and joy to our brothers and sisters and the world about us.
Instead of speaking our own ‘must and must not’, let us seek together the nature of God’s blueprint for all of God’s creation, from the least to the greatest. Love is the beginning and Love is the only answer, God’s Love that must continually give itself away, never clinging to anything for itself. Judgement, condemnation, and enforcement can never replace this call and this beginning; first comes Love.
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