You are my child, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
This date is important to me. On the 10th of January, 1999, I was baptized. I was 35 years old, and the summer before, after many long days of questioning and struggle, I had decided that I could indeed say, “Yes.” I could become a Christian. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, though my grandmother, Marjorie Benson, had been a Catholic, and had thrown her lot in with Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. She had lived a life committed to justice and challenging all ways of human cruelty. Grandma Benson was the person who had the greatest influence on me as a girl.
This Sunday, January 12, we will mark and remember Jesus’ baptism. It may seem a strange thing: indeed it was strange to John, when God, in Jesus’ flesh, came to him for baptism. Who is he to be the one to baptize Jesus? But, no, Jesus’ baptism marks his beginning, the start of something new. Jesus is now ready to embark on his journey: his life and example will overturn the world as it was, structures of exclusion, rejection, injustice have met their match. That’s what Jesus’ baptism means. What our baptism means is that we have thrown our lot in with this simple carpenter, who was also the King of the Universe. Our baptism means that we have said Yes to love and belonging, no matter what our history has been.
This Sunday we will renew our baptismal covenant: our commitment to be that love in the world. We will promise to a) love God b) love our neighbours c) love ourselves. Are your ready? I’ll see you Sunday!