by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
For the next 2 weeks, we'll be considering the baptism of Jesus, and it's a good time to remember our own baptisms. We might spend some time talking about what baptism meant to our families. We might think about what it means to us. When I read this Sunday's Gospel, I focus on the last verse: "Thou art my beloved son; with thee I am well pleased." The good news that Jesus brings us is that God feels the same way about each of us.
What does this love mean for our post-baptized life? We might look at the baptismal service in our hymnals, and think about what it is that we promise when we baptize.
Hopefully, if we were baptized as children, we had adults in our lives who took those vows seriously. As we grow up, we're expected to do these things for ourselves. Do we get to church regularly? Do we read the Scriptures? Do we surround ourselves with people who will honor those commitments we've made and help us on our journeys?
As we participate in the Church's rites and practices, we are reminded again and again of God's love for us. We are given much in the way of symbolic language that helps us understand. Baptism is one of those rituals. We bathe on a regular basis, and wash our dishes and our clothes and our children, so the idea of water washing us clean is not unfamiliar to us.
We might use water to remind us of the gift of God's grace. We could take a cue from Martin Luther, and remember our baptism each time we take a shower. If we're caught in the rain, we could lift our faces to the rain drops and thank God for all the gifts that we rarely appreciate fully. As we water the yard and the garden, we can think about the restorative power of water on a parched plant.
As we prepare to leave the season of Christmas and Epiphany, we can return to those stories to be reminded of God's love. Look at the great lengths God has gone to let us know of that love. God becomes a little baby, born in a stable--and why? To let us know of God's love. God becomes a refugee because of Herod's jealousy. God loves us so much--the Bible is full of stories that show God going to great lengths to show humanity this love. An observant person might say that God still goes to great lengths to get our attention.
The juxtaposition of Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ also gives us an opportunity to see how differently people respond to this gift of grace and love. Herod is so threatened that he slaughters every child in Bethlehem and the surrounding region. John, on the other hand, tells everyone about the coming arrival of Jesus.
How will you respond to God's great gift of love?