This Sunday, January 12, at the 10:30 am worship service of the Congregational Church of Weston UCC, we will hear Matthew’s story of Jesus’ baptism. The Rev. Dr. Jill Edens will be preaching.
Baptism is an identification with God’s saving action in the world, a way of aligning the story of your life within the larger story of God’s quest for justice … and a new and right creation. Thus Jesus came to John the Baptizer to be baptized, to identify himself with those whose allegiance to the God led them through the Jordan River.
Jesus’ baptism was probably more political than we usually interpret baptisms to be. Jesus is clearly aligning his story with the story of Israel at a time when Israel was occupied by Rome. That the authorities will later imprison and execute both John and Jesus reveals their revolutionary or subversive identity.
Baptismal water is not magic, a talisman to ward away evil spirits, it is God’s promise that the pattern of passing through death into life can be trusted. Going through the waters of the Jordan reveals one as among God’s chosen. Plunging through the waters opens one to a heritage of promises including weeping in exile and jubilation at homecoming, the parables of Jesus and the visions of John. Rising up from the waters one hears their name called, “Child,” “Beloved,” and hears a call to participate in making right what is wrong. There is a purpose to life that is more than me.
First and foremost, baptism is the promise that we are a child of God. Nothing more … and nothing less. Money, country of origin, race, language, gender, orientation does not add status and it does not take it away. We are beloved children of God. Being a bruised reed or a dimly burning wick does not disqualify you.
Second, Jesus came to be baptized at the beginning of his ministry. Jesus trusted that there would be more. Identifying with the reign of God and not Caesar was not the final act but an initial act, a choice that would be repeated again and again. It is a lifelong journey to love others more than self, to forgive or to live into a new creation.
And last, we have to tell our story for it to become a part of God’s larger story. As Maya Angelou has said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Bring your story as we hear anew on Sunday the story of Jesus’ baptism. Hope to see you at the Congregational Church of Weston UCC, 130 Newton Street, this Sunday morning at 10:30am.