Scripture: Mark 1:1-13
Key verse: (11) “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”
Reflection: The first child I ever baptized was a wide-eyed four-year-old who didn’t absolutely hate having a few minutes to herself in the spotlight. She was eager and engaged the week before as we stood on the marble steps of that sanctuary and peered into the font together, and I explained to her what we would do that Sunday, including the part where I would dip my hands into the cool water and dribble it onto her brow in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I explained that all of this meant that she was a child of God – and that that was very good news. I also assured her that we could work around her favorite sequined headband.
When the day came, I stood on that same marble step and I invited her and her parents to come forward. We went through the liturgy we had discussed, and after a prayer over the water, I made my hand into a cup and brought the water to her head just as we had practiced. And that’s when she turned to me, and in a loud whisper said, “This is when we do the good news part, right?” “Right!” I replied as the congregation laughed. She turned proudly back toward them, ready to receive the blessing.
I don’t remember my own baptism, but I’ll never forget hers, and her perfectly timed question. She broke up what can often be a rote ritual with a fresh reminder that what we were enacting was the good news that Jesus Christ claims us – all of us – as children of God. In baptism, we are made one with him over whom the Spirit proclaimed, “This is my child, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” In baptism, we claim that promise is true for us as well. God loves us and God delights in us.
Our job as beloved children of God is to share with others the good news of their own belovedness. Henri Nouwen puts it this way:
“When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosenness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosenness of others. That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone – a unique, special place. Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart” (Life of the Beloved)
There are so many ways to share the good news of someone’s belovedness with them. With whom might you share it today? I wonder if you might treat this day as the time “when we get to do the good news part.”
Prayer: Thank you for a fresh reminder of who I really am, O God: someone who is deeply loved by you. Make me a participant in your good news today, so that I might help others feel your love in real ways, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].