Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Gospel Reading for First Sunday after Epiphany (Year C)
Baptism is a symbol for many things. One is that it symbolizes the start of a person's journey to follow God. It is a moment in which you tell others that you want to be someone who lives like Jesus did. Jesus himself was baptized. That fact trips some people up. John the Baptist says that was not worthy to stoop down and tie the Messiah's shoes. So why would he, why would anyone, be baptizing Jesus?
I do wonder if the baptism and the moment when Jesus heard the voice from heaven is where it all clicked. Jesus had an inkling about who he was and what he was called to do. Yet in that moment when he heard God say, "You are mine, the Beloved. And you delight me," everything changed. He set off in his ministry.
You and I don't hear voices from heaven when we are baptized. At least I didn't. It would have seriously freaked out seven year old Christopher if I had. But I think as we follow Jesus into the waters of baptism that God tells us the same thing. God calls us beloved and is pleased with us. Or as I put it during a children's sermon this morning, a phrase I admittedly borrowed from Parks & Rec, God loves us and God likes us.
We hear so often that God loves us that we kind of take it for granted. It's like God has to love us just like you have to love your weird second cousin because he's family. But God loves us and likes us. God thinks we're beautiful. God thinks what we say matters. I like to believe that God loves our stories and laughs at our good jokes. Sure, God wants us to be the best version of ourselves, a version that is not tripped up by sin or plagued by self-doubt. But it's still the best version of you not someone else that God wants you to be. God loves you and God likes you.
In many churches, including our own this morning, there is a little bowl of water sitting at the entrance of the sanctuary. The idea is that you dip your fingers into the water and remember your baptism. You are supposed to remember that moment when you said that you would follow God. Remember how you are being changed. Remember that voice telling you that you are loved and liked.
I always thought that was cool. But you don't need a bowl in church to help you remember your baptism. Water is everywhere. So I told the children this morning to be on the lookout for water and whenever they encountered it to remember their baptism; to remember that God loves them and God likes them. I am trying to do that and would encourage you to do the same. I think remembering that we are loved changes our posture towards God and the world.
So when you wash your hands, drink a glass of water, when it rain, or anything else, remember God loves you and God likes you.