Just a word… Feast of the Baptism of the Lord…
Just a word… Feast of the Baptism of the Lord… January 10, 2021
We find ourselves here at the close of a most unusual Christmas season, marking the Baptism of the Lord, what can be considered an unusual celebration… or is it? There are those who question why Jesus would “submit” to being baptized by John, as Jesus would have had no need to repent. But there are many theologians who believe that Jesus did not submit as much as he acted in solidarity with the people. He was modeling for them the way of choosing a new way forward, cognizant as he was of the ancient Jewish belief that cleansing with water was a symbol of the renewal of life. For Jesus, that new way forward would be to begin his public ministry. For us, the message of this Sunday might be that Christmas is over; it is time to get back to work.
But what work might that be? When we were baptized, we were washed of original sin, as tradition and theology tell us, but we were also welcomed as God’s beloved child, swept up into the mystery of the living, dying and rising of Jesus the Christ. As such, we have a share in continuing his work on this earth, in becoming Christ, if you will, to the rest of humanity.
So, again, what work might that be? Some of you no doubt remember a poem, a fa- vorite of Fr. John’s, that in better days he posted at Christmas on the bulletin boards in this church. It is entitled “The Work of Christmas” and was written by Howard Thurman:
“When the song of the angels is stilled, When the star in the sky is gone, When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks, Then the work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken, To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoners, To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people, To make music in the heart.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs.
Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs, is people who have come alive.”
Like Jesus at the Jordan, we need to listen for the voice of God, reminding us that we are light, we are savory salt, we are fresh bread and rich wine, we are beloved daughters and sons who have come alive in Christ through our baptism. When we do that, we will be em- powered to do the work of Christmas, the work of Christ, so that we will one day hear the words that Jesus did on the day of his Baptism: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”