I was struck this
week by how many times we hear God’s voice in the readings. God’s
voice claims us and calls us to do God’s work.
… Isaiah hears
God speak first about the suffering servant, who makes no complaint at the way
he is treated. Christians read into this a description of Jesus, especially at
his trial, his beating, and his crucifixion.
describes the way God’s people are called to be lights to the people, to
minister to those who are blind and imprisoned in darkness. We hear some echoes
of this passage in Jesus’ life and ministry to the poor and hungry and weeping
people. We, too, are called to be light for people living in darkness.
… In the reading
from Acts, we hear Peter speaking God’s words: Jesus is alive again after the
leaders of Judaism killed him. The disciples are all now empowered to speak
God’s words, to give voice to Jesus’ words and to share them with all who will
listen. As today’s disciples, we are also called to give voice to Jesus’ words and
give action to Jesus’ ministry.
… God’s voice is
easy to identify in the Gospel reading. God’s voice is heard saying, “This is
my son, the beloved. I am well pleased with him.” There is no admonition here
for what our response should be, but we might assume we are at least called to
believe what God says. And we are called to listen to what Jesus says, since
God so obviously approves of him and what he is about to do.
It is not clear
in this text from Matthew who is able to hear God’s voice. Is it just John the
Baptist? Or do the people in the crowd also hear it? Certainly someone heard
it, because we have the story about it.
wonder why Jesus needed to be baptized. Even John the Baptist wonders about it.
Jesus tells him that it is to “fulfill all righteousness”. Those who are obedient
to God are considered to be righteous. This means that when Jesus shows up to
be baptized by John, he is obeying God.
Jesus has been
sent to be like us, to show us God’s heart. When he is baptized, he is telling
the people that God approves of John’s baptism, even though the leaders don’t
approve of it.
… Jesus begins
his ministry with baptism; so do we. Baptism has become an essential aspect of
our lives as believers in Jesus. Jesus speaks to us through our baptism.
baptism, we remember that we are forgiven – we receive God’s grace. The grace
actually comes first – Jesus invites us to receive it. There is nothing we need
to do to get it! We cannot earn grace. In response to the grace, we learn to
follow Jesus in reaching out to others with that same grace.
baptism, we die to our old sinful selves and rise to new life with God’s Spirit
within us. It is hard to remember that baptism is first a death. We usually just
pour a little water over the heads of those who are baptized. When baptism
includes full immersion, it is easier to see the connection to death. While we
are under water, we can’t breathe. The first breath we take when we come up out
of the water is an inhaling of God’s Holy Spirit. Every breath we take for the
rest of our lives is an expression of God’s presence within us.
baptism, we are united into one family of Jesus people. We have sisters and
brothers all around the world. We have sisters and brothers of all colors and
all abilities and all income levels. We have brothers and sisters who worship
by saying the same prayers every week, and sisters and brothers who sing the
same song for 20 minutes, and brothers and sisters who live in silence except
for worship time. We are a diverse family, all followers of the same Jesus.
baptism, we embark on our lives of following Jesus into ministry among all of
God’s people. God’s voice comes to us through scripture. God’s voice comes to
us through the bread and wine which nourishes us each week. God’s voice comes
to us through trained teachers and preachers, through our friends, and through
intuition – though we need to be careful with the interpretation of our
God’s voice also comes
to us when we notice that something is not what Jesus would want. For example, Jesus
frequently spoke tenderly with the social outcasts of his time. He included the
tax collectors and the foreigners and those with different religions during his
Who are some of
the outcasts of our time? How would Jesus treat them? As baptized believers in
Jesus and followers of his way of living, shouldn’t we welcome them as Jesus
People who are poor
or homeless are outcasts. I wonder what God was telling us on Christmas Eve
when half a dozen homeless folks showed up to worship among us. Thank you for
welcoming them so warmly.
People with Down
syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are often bullied and
disrespected. Jesus spoke with and healed people with demons and other
The refugees at our southern border have fled extremely
dangerous situations at home. They are seeking a new life, the opportunity to
earn a living, and educational opportunities for their children. In fact, they
are simply hoping their children have a chance to grow up.
All of these
people, and other groups we tend to reject for one reason or another, are God’s
children and our sisters and brothers. They are all members of our family and
deserving of our respect and care.
When we are baptized,
and whenever we remember our baptism by dipping our fingers in the waters of
the font, we also remember the promises we made: to live among God’s people, to
worship regularly, to care for others and the world God made, and to seek
justice and mercy for all.
This week, I
encourage you to reflect on the promises made at your baptism and your
confirmation. Listen for God’s voice as
you encounter people this week. How will you/we be lights for people living in