Sunday, January 07, 2007

January 7, 2007: Baptism of Jesus
and Reminiscing on the Baptism of Mir

In churches around the world, people are remembering a most beautiful moment in the ministry of our Lord as recorded by Luke, chapter three:

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The mystery of the triune Godhead is beyond my mortal comprehension, but to have this instance of their appearing, one that has inspired a multitude of paintings--it is, after all, a dramatic event--such a clear "visual" exposition of a mind-boggling reality, well, it makes the Mir tremble a bit.

Father, Son, Spirit.

Yesterday commemorated epiphanies--the king revealed to wise men, and, in the Orthodox tradition, the Theophany, the manifestation of God the Trinity to men. Here begins, officially, the ministry of the Son of God, and here God in His triune fullness shows Himself in approbation of Jesus as Messiah.

It's an amazing moment! Oh, to have seen it!

And let us remember that the sinless One didn't need to be baptized. He had nothing of which to repent, no sins to sorrow over, no transgressions to confess. He was completing the perfect pattern of righteousness as an example of what a godly man should be and do.

I cannot remember my R.C. baptism, of course. I was a wee babe. But I remember being 15 and making my public profession of faith after the shake-up in my soul brought about by my conversion, or rather, by my regeneration and the Spirit's robust indwelling. God had rocked my world and I really did feel utterly new inside. You couldn't shut me up. I was out there telling everyone. I was working hard at learning as a disciple and working through that great salvation. I was looking through changed eyes. It was something. It still amazes me.

And that naive teen I was thought I'd be so much perfected by age forty. Well, I know better. We improve, we make progress, we fall, we backslide, we get up, we make progress, we learn, we lose zeal, we slack off, we get up, we make progress...

I am not easily virtuous.

But I remember when I dwelled in that period of first love. It was a bold and blazing thing.

The baptism I underwent at fifteen in a lake in Central Florida surrounded by sun and trees and friends and my pastors felt so right. It was during a retreat, so my family was not there. I stood in the water and said, clearly, what I believed and my intention to follow Christ. Such singing and laughing and just pure joy, we, so young, so very young, in our swimsuits, in that warm, warm lake.

It was a grand day, a holy day, a happy day, a hot summer's day. And I was reborn.

Only thing that would have made it better would have been Allison Krauss there singing:

O brothers, lets go down
Let's go down, Come on down
O brothers, let's go down
Down in the river to pray

Man, everyone should be baptized out of doors like Jesus. It's refreshing and gives an image of reclaiming Eden or walking in some Biblical story. A lake. A stream. A river. There's something special about being surrounded by nature and nature's God. And one can even imagine how it must have been, the "dove-like" Spirit gliding down, the voice of the Father in the wind.

I hope you have good memories of your baptism.

And if you haven't been baptized as an adult, consider it. Really. Jews baptized grown-ups. The early church baptized adults. It was something that was a public expression of personal change, of following a better way, of cleansing, of renewal. Think about it, just for the joy of it, if nothing else.

And if you've never had the change of heart that leads to baptism's confession, then why not read this?

Happy and blessed day to you all.

1 comment:

Carmen Andres said...

oh, mir, what a wonderful post. thank you. blessings, carmen