By Rev. Heather Blais
The season of Epiphany is dedicated to several events in the holy scriptures that prove the divinity of Jesus as the Christ. It began with the Feast of the Epiphany this past Wednesday, where we heard the story of the Magi. The Christ child was revealed to these Zoroastrian astrologers in a new, incredibly bright star that they followed all the way to Bethlehem. Jesus' divinity will continue to be made clear throughout this season which will feature the miracle at Cana and the transfiguration of Jesus. This week Jesus' identity as the Son of God is dramatically revealed in the story of his baptism.
Today's gospel begins with the people following John the Baptist. The story starts by telling us that, "...the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah" (Luke 3:15). There was an air of hopefulness about the changes that this potential Messiah might bring. An energy we have all tasted before. When we feel like we may have stumbled across the person that is going to make things right; the person who will bring needed change and inspires great hope for the future. The person who will fulfill all our deepest longings and needs.
Some look for this fulfillment in the person they date or marry. Some look for this fulfillment in their children or their jobs. Some look for this fulfillment in their political or religious leaders. But at some point, the person that gave us the greatest hope will let us down. Deflating that sense of ripe expectation and hope in our hearts. Honestly, that is the way it should be.
We have a tendency in our human nature to look for messiahs that will fix all that is wrong within us, or in our lives, or in the world. Yet there is only one Messiah that has truly been made manifest; there is only one Messiah that can fulfill us. John knew this, and pointed the crowd towards the real Messiah. And he was right. Many of John's followers were baptized, including Jesus.
As Jesus was praying, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon him, followed by a voice from heaven, saying, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased" (Luke 3:22). God reveals to Jesus, and anyone paying attention, that Jesus is God's Son. Jesus is the Messiah. God was made manifest by being made incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. God revealed that truth, and the truth that the only one who could save the world from itself was and is his Son, Jesus the Christ.
How are we called to respond to the manifestation of Christ?
In our faith, lived out in our baptism. We embrace that truth at our baptism, again at our confirmation, and every time we renew the promises we have made in the baptismal covenant.But our baptismal life goes beyond those sacred moments. Jesus is revealed as the Christ, as our Savior, every single time we live into our baptism in our daily lives. Every time we encounter a member of the Trinity in some unanticipated way. Every time we follow the teachings and practices of the early Church. Every time we break bread together in worship-whether it be on the lawn or in the church, standing or kneeling. Every time we offer a prayer--whether it be from our pew, our bed, or our car. Every time we gather for fellowship--whether it be at coffee hour or a church chat. Every time we turn away from evil and sin--whether it be our lust, gluttony, greed, laziness, anger, envy, or pride--and choose a life with God instead. Every time we are able to look at the face of our loved one, or a stranger, or our enemy and see the Christ within them. Every time we work for justice and peace, respect and dignity for all of God's children instead of turning a blind eye to the wrongs of this world.
Simply put each and every time we live into our baptismal vows, God is revealed. Again, and again, and again. So you see, it matters a great deal how you live your life, how you engage those around you. Each and every moment is an opportunity to both know and love Christ more deeply, and to give the world a glimpse of what it means to know the Messiah.
I've shared this before, and I'll share it hundred times. A wise, unknown person once said, "Live your life in such a way that those who know you, but don't know God, can come to know God because they know you." That is the Messiah being revealed in your life. That is an Epiphany experience for your neighbor. As we prepare to renew our baptismal vows, I invite you to pray this week about how in the coming year you will you keep the covenant you made with God and this community.
Let us pray: Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen (Collect of the Day).
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