4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
6-8 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
9-10 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.
11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
I’ve never known how to handle the accounts of Jesus’ baptism, truly. I experience there to be an astonishing beauty in their simplicity, and a profound dance to behold between Father, Son, and Spirit. This is a scene I wish I could have observed in person.
But if you asked me why Jesus was baptized, or whether he even had to in the first place, I wouldn’t have an answer. This is one of those weird places in the Christian tradition that sits in mystery and confounds theologians all over the place.
So instead of trying to manufacture a meaningful answer to that point, I’ll offer these two thoughts about this story instead:
1. Even God, in God’s infinite glory, still submits to others.
2. Baptism is a perfect metaphor for the human journey. Growth occurs at the rate at which we are willing to “go under.” Our only chance at health and wholeness comes through a descent into ourselves- into our dark places. And only by befriending the experience of death (metaphorical and literal) do we emerge on the other side with clarity of our identity and value: as a wholly beloved child of God. And it’s here, once we’ve let go of the illusions we hold about ourselves, that are we capable of real intimacy and real love. May we have courage for the journey, knowing the Father’s words to Jesus are the same words spoken to us: “You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
Outward Mindset Application
Have you been avoiding any particularly difficult conversation lately? This week, consider the perspective of the other person. See if your imagination creates any of the ease that has been missing.
Pathways toward Centeredness
Naturalism (Loving God outdoors):
Stick a cup outside to catch the rain. Consider the molecules in that water and the microbes living in each drop. Where have they been and what have they seen? What might they tell you as you sit with them today?
Questions for Reflection
Is there an inner darkness you have been avoiding? What would make it safe to start exploring and healing that part of yourself?
Who do you know that appears to be healthy and whole? What is true about their life that allows them to be that way?
“Liturgy” refers to the habits and practices humans use to form community around shared values and meaning. At Church at the Park, we desire to be a community of practice, becoming people who see the world through the eyes of the marginalized, making meaning through the lens of pain and suffering, and committing ourselves to non-violence in a wounded world. This weekly email is intended to provide pathways of practice for becoming the type of people who embody these values.
Many of our reflections on each week's text come from other sources. If you're interested in reading more of what inspires us, here our our two favorite reflections.
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