Don Elly, M.Div.
When was the last time that you were filled with expectation? Luke’s description of the intersecting lives of John the Baptist and Jesus raise that question in a powerful way.
John, is for Luke, using the Prophet Isaiah as a model, cultivating the way for God to do something new.
Important as the New year is and the changes we face, Luke is clear that the New always has a foundation and God has been at work through it all. Do Not Lose Heart! Our hopes and expectations for something new may not happen as quickly as we wish, or in a manner we control, but God will find a way to keep working in the life of the world and our lives in particular.
Luke illustrates this when Jesus crosses paths with John the Baptist (not the first time that happens in this Gospel, remember how as babes in the womb they greeted each other reminding their mothers that God was continuing to use them). Here John has been busy cultivating the way for the Messiah by preaching of the need for change and symbolizing that change in a Baptism of water.
John declares in no uncertain terms he is not the Messiah. I like the way the Message expresses this truth: “I’m baptizing you here in the river.
The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the Kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out place(ing ) everything in its proper place before God.” Jesus’ baptism by John is the stage on which God makes clear that just as Jesus is chosen and marked by love and the pride of God’s life, so to are we. Do Not Lose Heart! Though Herod may put John in jail in Jesus the building of the Kingdom will go on.
As a child growing up I always thought the Holy Spirit only arrived on the scene when the Church is born. Not So. The Holy Spirit working through water, the word and the life of Jesus in us will not just survive, but thrive. “Do Not Lose Heart, You are mine”, says God, “and I have work for you to do and the waters will not overwhelm you.”
Isaiah, Acts and Luke all present water, wind, and fire the elemental symbols of creation and the means of God’s transformation.
January 10, 2016 ; Cycle C ; The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8: 14-17 ; *Luke 3:15-22