The Baptism of Our Lord, January 7
Rising and breaking the water’s surface, Jesus sees a portal in the dome of heaven, a gate through which love pours in the image of a dove. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Going to the baptism of John, Jesus walks to the place of human sin and the wages of sin. He is buried, raised, washed, and revealed, for our sake and our seeing and the incitement of our faith. He is our brother. He stands among those who hope their sins will be washed down the river. In truth, he, the sinless one, is the washing river. We go to his font in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and we hear what he heard through the door of heaven. We are, by adoption and grace, beloved sons and daughters of God. And he gives us “power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
And power is what we need, the strength to go on living for Christ in the face of so much care, anxiety, fear, and naked evil. We need forgiveness, but we also need patience. We need maturity and forbearance. Your word is a lantern to my feet, a small light glowing in pitch blackness, and the darkness does not overcome it. A light upon my path sweeps over a formless void. We walk as yet by faith. Providence may unveil a vocation for the long road, but the daily work will often be difficult and confusing. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit?” St. Paul asked the saints in Ephesus (Acts 19:2). Do I have the strength for this moment? And what am I to do? Is Christ with me, in me, behind me, before me, beside me? Will Christ win me as I step out on water amid the storm? Am I doing the right thing, am I being God’s child, is my heart open to the prompting of grace? As in the Gospels, Jesus speaks often by his silence. And we must go on in faith.
God moves over a formless void, stirs the black deep, and says, “Let there be light.” Light shines in the darkness, and yet darkness remains as night. A formless void, an abyss of nonbeing, threatens and is held back by God’s creative word. Humans “have always suspected that behind all creation lies the abyss of formlessness … that chaos signifies simply the threat to everything created,” Gerhad Von Rad writes in his commentary on Genesis. “For the cosmos stands permanently in need of this supporting Creator’s will.” Faith is waiting for God’s Word to create life and purpose, moment by moment, over a vast and empty canyon.
Faith will often feel vulnerable and dark, but not always. Faith can be sustained by returning again and again to God’s great power given first in baptism. “As many as received him, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters” (Ps. 29:3). The voice of the Lord is powerful, full of majesty, shakes the wilderness, causes the oaks to whirl, strips the forest bare (Ps. 29:4-9). “May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace” (Ps. 29:11).
This is real strength and real grace and a real presence. “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). So, faith and hope become love and happiness, a quiet trust that Christ is power at hand.
Look It Up
Read Gen. 1:3.
Think About It
God will give you just enough light.