Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Corinthians 2:14-17
This Sunday in the Christian Year the Church celebrates and remembers the Baptism Of Our Lord – when Jesus presented himself to John the Baptist alongside the River Jordan for baptism.
The Gospel of Matthew’s baptism account reads, “And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’” (Mt 3:16-17).
That day in the Jordan River Jesus is publicly claimed by God as the child of God. When we anticipate, celebrate, witness, and remember baptisms, we recall how we, too, are claimed as children of God.
Holy. Worthy. Beloved. With whom God is well pleased.
I live and serve in an area saturated with Disney paraphernalia – not a bad thing at all! – and as I dwell with this image of Jesus meeting John along the banks of the Jordan River a coy smile creeps across my face as I remember wise ole’ Rafiki leading a weary and lost Simba to the banks of a watering hole. Simba peers over the side hoping to see his father – who died many years earlier – and instead sees his own reflection. Disgusted Simba recoils and Rafiki encourages him to look again. “Look harder…” Rafiki says, “You see…he lives in you” and Simba’s reflection morphs into that of his father’s.
Simba then hears his name rolling across the clouds like thunder and an effigy of his father appears. “Simba, you have forgotten me,” Mufasa says. “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life. Remember who you are. You are my son. Remember.”
Simba protests, “How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be…” And Mufasa implores, “Remember. Remember.”
When we return to the waters of baptism – not for rebaptism for God’s grace is sufficient in the single ritual – it is to remember who we are. Regardless of what we have done or left undone, regardless of where we have said too much or kept silent too long, regardless of who we used to be and who we are now, God calls us to remember. To remember who we are. To remember who God is. To remember what God’s grace has done and is doing. To refresh our memory of God’s claim on our lives.
We are holy. We are worthy. We are beloved. We are with whom God is well pleased.
I am. You are.
Prayer: “Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Christ, our King; heirs of salvation, trusting his promise, faithfully now God’s praises we sing. Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit, dead in the tomb with Christ, our King; one with his rising, freed and forgiven, thankfully now God’s praises we sing. Baptized in water, sealed by the Spirit, marked with the sign of Christ, our King; born of one Father, we are his children, joyfully now God’s praises we sing.”* Amen.
*“Baptized in Water,” The Faith We Sing, 2248.