The Baptism of the Lord – January 11, 2015 – MS Westerdam

Isaiah 42, 1-4. 6-7 + Psalm 29 + Acts 10, 34-38 + Mark 1, 7-11

MS Westerdam

The only ones who hear anything in Mark’s Gospel are you, me, and Jesus. None of the bystanders hear a thing. They do not hear those words we hear. Do you wonder why? I think it is because at that moment they have not been baptized. It is not to suggest that they are excluded, but it is to say that baptism and hearing the Word of God results in one being claimed by God, becoming a servant of God, and beginning the work that all the baptized are privileged to continue: making known the loving and saving plan of God for all humankind. From that moment on, everything he says and everything he does is God’s. There is no private life. There is no civil life, and no religious life. There is no spiritual life either. There is only the Life of God living within one has been baptized, and heard the Word of God speaking.

We live such compartmentalized lives these days. The life of a wife or husband, the life of a parent, the life of some kind of profession. Somehow I suppose it is one way to keep organized and not fly off in a hundred different directions. We have a faith life, we have the life of a citizen, some have the life in the military, or a life in healthcare, or law. I have had the life of a Pastor. It is all so neat and orderly. Yet, it is also so artificial and so far from what we were called to become on the day of our Baptism.

Living like this leads us to think and say things like: “Sundays are for God, the rest of the week if for business” or pleasure or politics where religion plays no part. This kind of thinking is not in tune with nor worthy of what we have become as sons and daughters of God. By virtue of our Baptism, we have been born into the life of Christ, a life that knew no distinctions or categories. It was and still is for us, a life that is totally and completely integrated and whole meaning that everything we do is directed to and by God. Everything.

Folding laundry, grocery shopping, driving the kids to school, reading with them, calling and checking on your parents or your neighbor, working, or studying: it’s all about God, because of God, and for God. In this thinking and in this life, there are no “have to-s”. Everything is a “get to”. All is gift. All is privilege. All is gratitude. Faith is not excluded from anything. In fact, faith is involved in everything we do and every decision we make.

This is what we learn from Mark’s story of Baptism. That having been claimed by God and having heard as we just did the voice of God claiming us, everything is changed. Now there is a reason and a purpose for everything we do here: the glory of God and the revelation of God’s presence and God’s will.

When people encounter those who are truly baptized, and baptized in the Spirit of God, they always wonder, “What kind of person is this?” at which point, they begin to desire and seek for themselves that loving place in God’s heart. This is the beginning of the “fullness” of life which is what we are offered through Jesus Christ.

Father Tom Boyer