9 January 2011
First Sunday after Epiphany
(Baptism of Our Lord)
Epiphany 1A (RCL)
I have come to think that each of the Gospels was written and used primarily as baptismal instruction. They were intended to be heard, and all at once. Imagine hearing a Gospel read from cover to cover, while you waited in the dark to be baptized. At the beginning of each gospel is a reference to baptism, and then again at the end (in Matthew, particularly clear — go and make disciples, baptizing). So, as you listened to this, it would begin to dawn on you, this was your story. The spirit came to rest on you. You would be tempted, etc. You would become “christianos” — little christ.
So, those heavenly words are addressed to us: This is my child, my chosen, in whom I am well pleased. Takes us right back to all of the Isaiah servant songs. I have called you in righteousness and kept you. I have given you as a light for the nations, to bring forth justice on the earth. Yikes!
The baptismal community is to shine God’s righteousness to the world. That’s how we live as community, and we bring it about for all. Did any of us ever really think of our baptism in that way? Or was it just a “get out of hell free card”?
What does it mean to be God’s chosen? It’s not always comfortable.