Remember our Baptism
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”
February 19, 2021, Words By: Lina Thompson, Image By: Unknown
Alimentando El Pueblo (Feeding El Pueblo) is a food distribution initiative that specifically caters to the Latinx community in my area. This idea came from within the heart of the community itself as an answer to food insecurity. Local food banks, as good and as needed as they are, did not have the kinds of foods that you would find in the kitchen or around the dinner table of Latinx families.
Within a matter of weeks, local Latinx leadership figured out how to procure culturally appropriate grocery items. Two-hundred boxes of Latinx food went out each week to families in our community. The church I serve was blessed to be a partner to this important initiative, providing the space, some staffing support, and a van to help with deliveries. Each Friday, one could drive by the church and what you would find was a celebration of food and music as people pulled up and had groceries loaded into the trunks of their cars. This is the work of the Spirit, blessing and anointing the work of feeding families who otherwise may not have what they need. This was an outward sign of an invisible grace. The Holy Spirit is moving in this work. We (the church) didn’t initiate the idea, or own it, or design it or run it. We just played our part.
Resisting the temptation and assumption that we, whether as individuals, or as a nation, or even as Christians, are the center of all things, is part of our spiritual formation. The Holy Spirit moves in us and through us, but She is also at work off the “map” of our churches and in the most unlikely ways. Alimentando El Pueblo is a beautiful example of how the Spirit is moving.
In today’s passage, we see the activity of the Spirit breaking in at Jesus’ baptism. We hear the voice from heaven claiming Jesus as the beloved Son, in whom God is “pleased”. Before Jesus does anything noteworthy, he is called Beloved.
This is also true for our own baptism. We are given our identity as it relates to God and we also become part of the beloved family – related to one another through the life of the Spirit in us. Before we do anything of merit, we are God’s beloved. We belong to God.
I know a theology of baptism is that once you are baptized, you don’t need to be baptized again. But to be honest, I long for something that can give us a “do-over.” In this country (the US), the last 11 months of the pandemic, protest, hateful rhetoric, and political insurrection have shown us that large parts of the US Church have forgotten or forsaken our identity as God’s beloved children – forsaken our baptism. At a personal level, it has caused me to look at the ways I have participated in this “forsaking of our identity.” Perhaps by what I have said or left unsaid, or by what I have done or left undone.
We often say, “Remember our baptism”. What if in remembering we would believe our belovedness as children of God, and our belonging to God and to one another? Out of those truths, might we treat other beloved siblings with a more active concern for their well-being? Might we fight with and for our beloved family, and the basic needs of adequate healthcare, living wages, affordable housing, food insecurity, more humane policing, equitable education?
These are not political issues of right and left, though this is where these conversations and their solutions are often deliberated and then policies created. I wish for a do-over where these conversations become central for the spiritual life of the Church. When we come to see ourselves in sacred, trusting relationship to one another, we will desire for others what we desire for ourselves. We will allow the Spirit to form in all of us a heart of deep mercy.
Our baptism matters. In it, the Spirit reminds us that we belong to God and to one another as beloved siblings and family.