I sit here, enjoying a summery breeze on the balcony, pondering the year ahead.
Last year was so full of new things- new for me and my family, new for us as a congregation.
I wonder what the adventures will be for the year that is just getting underway. I wonder what the challenges will be, what moments will make me laugh so hard that my belly aches, what new companions might join us and share in our life together.
In marking the newness of the year, I have been thinking about the baptism of Jesus, which we celebrated last Sunday, and thinking about my own baptism in a backyard swimming pool at age 14. I see Jesus and John talking on the banks of the Jordan, and then suddenly I am back in my swimmers and too-short white shorts answering questions of faith and commitment.
Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins.
Do you turn to Jesus Christ who has defeated the power of sin and death, and brought us to new life?
I turn to Christ.
Do you commit yourself to God, trusting in Jesus Christ as Saviour and in the Holy Spirit as God’s power and presence along the way?
I commit myself to God.
Whoosh, I go, down, into the waters.
The old is gone, dead, buried. Danger, beware: this is dying to my-self. This is a wild baptism, into discipleship following Jesus, following one who was crucified, following one whose life put him at odds with the society and culture he lived within and who will put us often as odds with ours.
This is life by drowning, in the name of the Trinity- Father, Son and Spirit- Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of us all.
Whoosh, I fall up, into new life, into air to breathe, and hope to bear, into Christ’s resurrection, and into the new community of Christ’s body. We are joined to God’s mission and share in life together in following after the risen crucified one.
I live, no longer belonging to myself, but to Christ and so to Christ’s body- to you.
And somehow, over Jesus in the Jordan, the heavens broke open and the Spirit descended like a dove. And God’s voice spoke through. And somehow as we begin this year together, that same Spirit falls down upon us, and God’s voice still speaks: “This is my child, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”
And perhaps this is the best way we can begin a new year: with the reminder ringing out that we are God’s beloved children. And with this encouragement, perhaps we can be refreshed for the year ahead, for our discipleship adventure of following after Jesus on the road.