RCL: First Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15

Beloved. You are my child. My kid. All my love belongs to you. My love is because of you. You and my love cannot be separated. They flow together like water. You are my beloved.

That’s what the voice from heaven expresses to Jesus, and it is the same message, I believe, that is expressed to us. The Christ has made us new. We are not separate from the Father. We are one as they are One. Beloved.

And in turn, as we are made new, as we experience the renewal of all things–that is already and not yet. The renewal that has already been accomplished and is also being worked out. As we experience that renewal that washes away the old through dying to ourselves with Jesus, and coming through death and out the other side in his resurrection… well… we get to be a part of the renewal! Behold, a new creation! And as the body of Christ we get to take part in the building of the Age to Come… ? Can that be so?!

I’ve been thinking some about the plight of humanity. The human condition. Specifically, how it seems that most people through most of time have had tough lives. At least from my modern, comfortable perspective. Suffering and death were real. Imminent. And perhaps the divisions over the proper methods of baptism and splits in the church over such things were due to the existential necessity to be firm in the translation of their experience. The rigidity was a byproduct of the reality they faced. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that we, that I, fail to live up to the calling of Beloved. Yet, I receive that same voice from heaven over and over. Each day. Renewed. Grace.

If you haven’t heard, I’ve been immersed in the 4 books by Marilynne Robinson set in the town of Gilead, Iowa. Almost finished so don’t worry… then I will move on to another writer from whom I will bombard you with quotes. But here’s maybe a last one… maybe… and certainly one that I’ve already shared at least once. But it captures baptism perfectly in my opinion:

“There is a reality in blessing, which I take baptism to be, primarily.  It doesn’t enhance sacredness, but it acknowledges it, and there is power in that.  I have felt it pass through me, so to speak.  The sensation is of really knowing a creature, I mean really feeling its mysterious life and your own mysterious life at the same time.”

The acknowledgement of sacredness. The voice from heaven. May I have eyes to see others through the lens of sacredness. May I hear the voice of heaven saying ‘beloved’ to everyone I meet.

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