Pastor Janell introduced this service as follows:
"Baptism of Our Lord is always the first Sunday after Epiphany. At Epiphany, we remember how outsiders sought out the Christ child while the empire plotted his demise. At Epiphany we recognize the brilliance of love made flesh. We hold these truths as we encounter John and Jesus at the river Jordan.
John is clear he is not worthy to untie Jesus sandal and yet, John says YES to baptize Jesus. This is a striking contradiction. Something else that has caught my ear is the voice declaring Jesus Beloved as he comes out of the water."
Baptism symbolizing purification or regeneration is often stressed but that is no longer my experience during a baptism. Ever since my son's baptism I have experienced this as a sacrament concerned with a dynamic relationship with God.
This time reading Mark's account the description "He saw the heavens torn apart and the spirit descending on him" was a verse that carried more weight than my usual reading. I thought about individual versus a public experience and how the public experience feels like it has been regarded as verified where a private experience cannot be "verified".
I tried to imagine "the heavens torn apart" in our shared world could be describing. What came to mind first was violent thunder and lightening but torn apart are not the words I would normally use to describe that sky. What associates with torn apart for me, in this context, is the curtain being torn in the temple. The ministry of Jesus has something being torn at the beginning and end. Before and after Jesus' ministry domething will never be the same again. God continues to break the ways humankind feelimg comfortable to contain the transcendental in some sacred place.
What Pastor Janell found was how God inspired or approved of Jesus and John without them needing to prove they were up for the task ahead and before they had "done" anything
Many say that God in the Bible is a God of the desert. God for me in my epiphany is not a God of the desert but a God that comes through the rain that can satisfy our thirst at times. The rain that fills the well that the Samaritan women draws from, for example, and opens her mind to what Jesus is teaching her.
Pastor Dayle always use to preach that she would try to remember her baptism when she splashed her face with water. Rain reminds me of baptism today for the reasons I noted above. We are bound to each other by this life-giving element and God, through Jesus, is bound to our God with us.