Summary: EPIPHANY 1, YEAR A - The bapism of Jesus is our baptism into death and new life
Rosemary and I enjoy watching “how-to” television shows. One night we were watching “This Old House” and were amazed to see the beginning of a remodeling project in San Francisco. What was so neat about it was that the home-owners were remodeling a church into their private home. Now Rosemary has known a few folks who have done that and usually it has been ministers who have been quirky enough to want a home-church. And there is a tremendous amount of work in such a conversion. [Pardon the pun.] What struck me about this church in San Francisco, however, was that when the crew went into the basement they found the central beam of the building sitting on a one foot block of wood, that sat on a 6 inch block of concrete, that sat on a half-wall along the foundation. Do you know what that means? Any kind of significant tremor, if any major type of earthquake were to hit San Francisco that church would fall like a house of cards. That church - which closed it’s doors and sold off its property failed to have a solid Foundation. Seems ironic doesn’t it? My mind jumps to the hymn: The Church’s One Foundation... and I wonder....
I think about the foundation of the church, and the foundation of it’s founder Jesus Christ. I don’t think I have ever considered before that Christ himself our foundation- must himself had had a sure foundation in order to become for us the foundation of our faith. Christ had to rest upon some secure base so that he could do all that was needed for us. If you are curious about what that security was for Jesus that’s good - because, remember, it is your basis too. If you want to find it, it’s proclaimed in every gospel Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because it is that important. Do you want to know what it is? Where it is? It’s in his baptism! Isn’t that amazing, The beginning of Jesus’ ministry which would lead him to a cross on a hillside called Calvary started in a river named Jordan at a baptismal service Christ’s beginning is also our beginning baptism. Wow! that is a mouthful. All sorts of feelings and values and significance pours out with that one word. Child of God I baptize you in the name Of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. There is so much to it, that we have to seek it’s meaning by start with it’s beginning. “In those days John the Baptist came preaching ‘repent, for the kingdom of God is coming upon us.’ And Jesus came to be baptized by John. Does that seem strange to you that Jesus would seek a baptism of repentance? I mean what did he have to repent from? We repent from our sin but Jesus was sinless, right? He had nothing to repent of. So why did he seek baptism? what did it hold for him?
Well -first- it depends on how we understand repentance. Our first thoughts are -as I said to repent of sin to turn away from something evil. But that is only a part of it. See, you can turn away from the sin of alcohol, and turn instead to drugs, you can turn from promiscuity to infidelity, you can turn from abuse to murder. Just turning away is not all there is to repentance. the more important piece of repentance is what we turn toward. When John cried our in the desert “Repent” He was saying not just turn away from sin, but return to God. That was the heart and soul of John’s message. Turn to God. For God’s kingdom is coming upon us. That Jesus could do. Wholeheartedly he could seek God, freely and fully. It isn’t that Jesus wasn’t doing so before his baptism, but in baptism He was saying Yes! Yes to God’s call, Yes to God’s purpose in his life, Yes to God’s rule which John colorfully called the kingdom of heaven. When Jesus said to John “it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” he wasn’t saying he wanted to live an nice moral life. No, to fulfill all righteousness is to do the will of God, whatever it may be, wherever it would lead. In his baptism Jesus embrace God’s mission with a resounding “Amen.” And in turn God embraced Him. When Jesus came up for the river Jordan, the Holy Spirit came upon him, and God proclaimed “this; is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” Now if you think God was the beaming Papa saying “Jesus, you such a good’a boy (pinch cheeks) you make-a me so happy.” No. Erase that idea from your mind, the idea that God was gratified by Jesus.