13Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16And 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. 17And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17: 1-9)
I remember when John baptized him. Jesus, dressed in white, got into the water and John pushed his head under. As he emerged, the heavens seemed to open as if God was pleased. It was special, sort of an affirmation of who he was, who I had known he was all along. In that moment, I began to understand that his role was bigger than our family, bigger than my son, even bigger than these that he had gathered around him. I knew that but in that moment I began to understand it. I was here to walk with him as he prepared not only to be a rabbi, a teacher, but to take on the ministry to which God called him. And in that moment in the waters of re-creation, his ministry began. This is the moment when God claims this child of God as the One who God calls. This was the becoming and the beginning that he needed. I had to begin to let go of what I knew.
I thought back to that time in Jerusalem when we found him in the temple with the rabbis. My first reaction was relief that he was found. I wanted to take him and hold him and never let him loose again. My next reaction was anger that he had worried us so. But the scene of him sitting there listening to the rabbis, understanding more than most adults will ever understand, made up for it all. I knew then that he was beyond me, that I was here only for a time to help lead him to what he was called to do. I knew that he was meant to be something more even than what I had thought.
So many of us get so wrapped up in those things that we can control or those that make us at least feel in control. We want to be safe and comfortable. So in this Christmas season, we often tend to wrap ourselves in our shopping, our plans for meals, and our family gatherings, our traditions of the way we do things and the expectations that they will be like they’ve been before. These memories remind us all that we are continuously called beyond ourselves. God calls us to newness, even in the midst of the familiar traditions that are so much a part of us. That is the way God transforms us. That is the way God moves us beyond ourselves. That is the way God loves us.
God travels wonderful paths with human beings; God does not arrange matters to suit our opinions and views, does not follow the path that humans would like to prescribe for God. God’s path is free and original beyond all our ability to understand or to prove. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
FOR TODAY: How is God moving you beyond yourself? How is God bringing newness even to the traditions that you hold so closely?
Peace to you as we come closer to that holiest of nights,