Matthew 3:13-17 (NIV)
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
I don’t think there are many folks entering 2017 who aren’t wrestling some kind of demon. As we begin to walk this year’s journey of Sundays (and every other day in between, whether sacrosanct or distinctly unholy) we’re going to need points like this week’s lectionary reading to pause at, to refresh our understanding and our memory of our salvation.
Do you remember the day you were baptised? My baptism was in a church I hadn’t attended since school-going age (and stopped going to shortly thereafter). It wasn’t long after I felt a call to ministry, a call I didn’t really understand. Mostly what I remember is being self-conscious standing in front of so many people, so few of whom I really knew. I said “Yes” in all the right places and tried not to fidget when the sprinkled water ran down my bangs. The ceremony felt in no way special.
It didn’t really need to. Being baptised wasn’t a moment of momentous change for me. That change had come earlier when, after a childhood of nominal Christianity and an adolescence of prickly disillusionment with the concept of traditional religion, followed by a few wilderness years of esotericism, I found God again. Or rather, found God waiting. It took a few days, but I picked up a Bible and said a stammering prayer I didn’t believe in.
But then, I didn’t need to believe in that prayer, because I had just enough faith – just enough – to believe in the one I was praying to, and he covered the shortfall graciously.
This week as we commemorate our Saviour’s baptism, it’s probably a good idea to commemorate our own. A week into a new year that promises to be just as difficult, if not more so, than 2016, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to remember our moment of metanoia. Whether it came before or after your actual baptism, there was a moment when you knew the Lord Jesus had died for you, a moment you understood deep within yourself a love you couldn’t explain, justify or express.
It’s so easy to lose that moment to the tides of daily faith and religious baggage. But if we are to traverse a whole year’s worth of Sundays, what better Sunday to start the journey with than this one – the “Sunday” that started it all for us? The Sunday when we answered the knock at the door, when we turned around at our name called, when we fell and found a hand to grab onto?
Blessings for your week,