“And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”
Yesterday, we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord, putting a punctuation mark at the end of the Christmas season. My favorite daily app, “Pray-As-You-Go” offered some good food for thought based on the full reading from Luke (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22). They suggest calling to mind our own baptism and imaging God saying to us what was said to Jesus, “You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased.” For many of us, just infants at our baptisms, the commitment made then wasn’t ours as much as our parents’. I was baptized at eighteen days of age in the Catholic church; I had very little say in the matter! But, I am so grateful to have been initiated into a faith community who nourished me and taught me through high school. I was baptized, made my First Communion and was Confirmed, all in the same church in Montana. Though I don’t remember hearing these words through any of these celebrations, I’m sure God was well pleased with my parents’ faithful following through, raising me in the faith.
But what about my commitment? When did that happen? Pray-As-You-Go asked that question, too. Can we think of a time we made a conscious commitment to God? What did that look like? How has that turned out? Although I was always sort of a spiritual kid (weirdly, probably) I think my first real commitment to God was during a Search retreat the end of senior year of high school. I felt so loved by God It was as if I’d heard these very words from Jesus’ baptism said to me. I told God I wanted to do whatever God wanted me to do with my life. Whatever vocation God wanted for me, I’d do it! I just needed clear, neon-sign instructions! I even explored joining a Catholic order of sisters and during the “Come and See” process, I was relieved to learn that God actually puts God’s desire for us deep in our own hearts, making it look like our idea. God doesn’t want us going around, miserable, supposedly doing God’s will! Looking back, I can see the path I took sure seemed like God’s idea placed in my heart. Not all of it turned out perfectly, but I can see God’s hand in the hard stuff as easily as I can in the open doors and opportunities.
But my most favorite part of the story of Jesus’ baptism is that it occurs towards the beginning of his public ministry. Jesus was willing to walk into the water and be baptized by John. And God was well pleased with just that. Jesus hadn’t done many mighty deeds at this point, so that wasn’t what pleased God. God was pleased with his Beloved Jesus walking in the water, willing to do whatever needed to be done. And that’s the same with us, really. We are the beloved of God and God is well pleased with us, even if it’s just taking on the challenge of a winter Monday morning!
We are so grateful to be your beloved, even before we do anything great or even good. You love us into being and are pleased with us all along our way. Please help us to remember we are all your beloved, and as we are, so is everyone else.