“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” [Keep Reading]
Joel Van Dyke Guatemala City
As you read this week’s lectionary passages, you encounter the invitation to the concept of fresh starts; an appropriate sentiment for the journey into a new year. From the first day of creation in Genesis 1, to the promise of strength and peace in Psalm 29, to the fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples that Paul encountered in Ephesus (Acts 19) and then, our Gospel passage for this week, the baptism of Jesus in Mark 1.
John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and we are told that the “whole” Judean countryside and “all” the people of Jerusalem went out to him. It seems John has become quite the successful, suburban mega-church pastor with a huge commuter congregation. But he is clear that his show is not the best in town.
“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus makes his way to John and is baptized by him in the waters of the Jordan River. As he rises from the water, the heavens are torn open and the Spirit gently descends upon him like a dove while a voice bellows out a 13 word sermon that boldly inaugurates a new reality for Jesus (and for us):
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At Street Psalms we are fond of referring to the street level version of this blessing as, “I love you and I really, really like you.” Jesus has not yet done anything to “earn” this primal blessing on his life at the inauguration of his ministry, it simply IS. The Father lavishes his blessing upon his son and Jesus is immediately sent out into the wilderness for 40 days of temptation empowered (“embrazened”) with the words of his Father’s baptismal sermon ringing in his ears and heart.
In discussing the frantic way in which most of us live seeking always to “earn blessing” by attempting to exist at the highest peaks of intensity, Thomas Merton writes that “If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music.” This is to say, Merton concludes, that for music to be pleasing, it must have both sound and silence. Without the balance between the two, music has no rhythm.
Could it be that holy silence is actualized in our lives through the acknowledgement and acceptance of this primal blessing upon our lives? “The keys that open all gates,” writes Rumi, “are strapped to love’s chest.” This is, in actuality, an invitation to move into the new year dripping wet from the Blessed Assurance of the baptismal blessing of being both loved and liked—“filled with His goodness, lost in His love.”
An invitation to a new year armed NOT with a long list of New Year’s Resolutions, but rather, an offer to a state of “rest-olution,” the silence of song that comes from bathing in the reality that as a follower of Jesus I have the blessed assurance that his baptism into the truth of being both loved and liked, is my baptism as well. This is truly good news to the start of a New Year.
This is, in actuality, our story. This is, in actuality, our song.
Joel Van Dyke Director | Urban Training Collaborative Guatemala City, Guatemala