This is one of my favorite stories, and each time I come back to it I am rewarded with new insights and confirmations.
A big part of my theological foundation is that I believe in a Trinitarian God. In my studies, I find myself drawn to some of the eastern theologians compared to some of out western theologians because of this central belief. When the eastern church split from Rome, both christian churches grew in their own ways. In the Eastern church, the mystery of the Trinity has always been held central while I would argue that in the Western traditions, Jesus has become more central than the trinitarian nature of God.
The basic doctrine of the trinity is sometimes argued as non-biblical, yet this passage clearly shows the three distinct persons of God. Each fulfilling their distinct roles in their own ways. The mystery of the trinitarian nature of God can be overwhelming at times. There is so much that I want to know, so much that I read that I do not understand well, and so many unanswered questions. While at times it is comforting to rest knowing that our God is bigger than anything we can fathom, the unknowing can also be very uncomfortable.
I also love the sacrament of baptism. Maybe because I love water. It is interesting how water draws so many of us in. How like fire, we become captivated by it’s movements. Water, also catches my interest in science. It is quite the unique substance that literally keeps all of life alive. Water is also a closed system. While it moves and changes state – new water is not created, simply cycled around the planet.
That makes all water connected. The water that believers from around the world are baptized in, and the water that Jesus himself was baptized in – is all connected.
As we begin a new year, and this story pops back into the lectionary I encourage you to remember your baptism. The promises that were made for you – to love you and to help you to know the love of our mysterious God. I encourage you to remember the baptisms you’ve been a part of – as a parent, a godparent, or a congregation member. Remember the promises you have made to others.
The great thing about the seasons of the church is that they take time from a linear form and tie together the end and the beginning to make a circle. Therefore there are new beginnings with each new season – like this season of Epiphany. Some of us have big new things in our lives – jobs, moves, children, spouses, or other things. Some of us start this new year without major changes. Together we can help support one another through changes, through beginnings and endings. It is in the intergenerational community that we have hope that we too can work through the newness – can find some hope amidst the many questions of life.
Whatever this new year and new season brings for you – I pray for hope and connection to offer you and your family love and support in living out the life God call each of you too.
I wonder what ways baptism brings newness?
I wonder what ways baptism connects the community of believers?
I wonder what the presence of God through the Holy Spirit touches you most?
I wonder how that presence of God convicts you to live?
Thank you, God, for the stories we have of Jesus’ life as a child and as an adult. Today we are reminded of the origin of our sacrament, baptism, which draws us together as brothers and sisters, part of families. May we learn to live in ways that are pleasing to you. Amen