Sunday, January 10, 2021
The first Sunday after the Epiphany
In the beginning, the earth was formless and void and darkness covered the face of the deep.
And God said, “Let there be light.”
Today, this first Sunday after the feast of the Epiphany, we officially celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.
Mark begins his telling of the Gospel story with the words, “the beginning,” a clear echo of the creation story. A new beginning, a new day, a new dawning. Let there be Light in the darkness of the Roman world in which people lived under the shadow of fear.
We’ve seen a lot of chaos this past year, this past week. Where have you looked for light and for order amidst the chaos?
Our sure and certain hope is knowing that God brings order from chaos and shines light in the darkness. Let there be Light in the darkness of today in which we live under the shadow of fear.
As I often say, ours is a faith of movement, of following Jesus, following God’s light even when we aren’t sure where it is taking us. The creation story tells us that God created in progression, a series of actions rather than one giant “tada”.
Jesus called his disciples with the words “Follow Me” and he took them on a journey teaching them to love actively.
After his resurrection, Jesus commissioned his followers to “Go” (see Matthew 28:16-20).
I was talking with a friend just yesterday about our children growing up and we both said that we didn’t grieve the past ages of our children but celebrated the age they are because we found joy in watching them grow. We don’t have children to keep them as babies but to guide them as they grow into adults.
Life – the life God created us to live – is growth and movement. This doesn’t mean we forget or ignore the past. Each moment, each encounter, each joy and pain, prepares us for the next. We grow progressively. We crawl before we walk. We are nourished by milk before we can eat steak. We learn single syllable words before we can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
We never stay at the beginning. Mark’s new beginning is the baptism of Jesus, the beginning of this Good News sent to us by God to remove the barriers between God and us, between heaven and earth.
We follow Jesus into and through Baptism so that we can go into the world to teach what Jesus teaches us by the way we live. Baptism isn’t the goal but the beginning of a life-long journey.
Somewhere along the way we decided that change, any type of change, is negative, even the growing up of our children, even our continued growth and development as adults.
We like the way things are. We find comfort and security in the organization and rhythm of our life and we decide this is the way we will always be. It’s why we use the phrase “when things get BACK to normal.” Staying the same isn’t normal. Growth and renewal are normal. The seasons of the year change. Day becomes evening, evening becomes night, night becomes morning.
If we’ve learned anything this past year and even this past week, I pray it is that sometimes the way things are isn’t the way they should be; the way things are isn’t the best we can all be. Holding onto the way things are and trying to get back to normal isn’t how God designed us to live.
Jesus teaches us that each day is a new day, not the same day it was yesterday. We aren’t stuck in Groundhog Day – thanks be to God! Jesus says “follow me, follow me into heaven on earth, here and now, follow me and hear God say, ‘you are my beloved child.’”