The Baptism of Jesus is often treated like the necessary means of getting Jesus into the right space with the cosmos: that if he doesn’t get dunked, he’s stuck. Or else we treat it like the perfunctory reason behind our religious rite. But baptism is way more than that. It’s the start of something awesome.
Baptism doesn’t get Jesus into heaven – it’s the opening act.
Epiphany 1B | Mark 1:4-11
Imagine a world without Christmas.
A horrible thought, I know. Some of you are saying “No. I don’t want to.” A world without Christmas is like a world without joy.
C.S. Lewis explores this idea in his most famous book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When the four children arrive in Narnia it’s always winter but never Christmas.
For many of us, the very thought of being without Christmas is like stealing joy from the world. It’s sucking up all the good and making it disappear; like a parent giving away all your toys.
Lewis uses that image to tell a story of a world that is cold without the presence of generosity and joy that Christmas brings. There, helping others is illicit and illegal. Friends are punished after helping these strangers to the woods.
It’s such an apt metaphor for a world without Christmas. Like an eternal winter full of the bitter cold we had last week but no carols, hot drinks, or candy to warm our hearts and sweeten our nights.
It’s an apt metaphor for when you know that joy and it’s stolen from you. As we read in our birth stories in Luke and Matthew, the oppression of Rome and it’s fake king are tangible and present.
Always present, like the Empire surrounding the Rebel Alliance and the John Williams score ominously announcing their promised return. Everything looks hopeless for our heroes!
In those two birth stories, we see the darkest nights come before the light is born into the world.
But the evangelist we call Mark doesn’t give us the darkness or the baby. He throws us into the thick of it.
The full text and audio may be downloaded above or here.