Yesterday we celebrated Epiphany and Sunday marks the Baptism of Jesus. These major Feast Days of the Church are shadowed by the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Nation’s Capital. Closer to home, January 6 is the birthdate of our beloved dog, Sally!
What meaning can be found in this conjunction of events? The Magi bring gifts to the Christ child before he has manifested any of his promise. Jesus is baptized, not out of some need for protection from hell, but so that God might proclaim him as “Beloved.” We adopted Sally and promised to love and care for her before we met her. These are all acts of grace, favor and blessing bestowed regardless of performance.
We begin beloved. Baptism marks us as beloved. We do not choose or earn our status. And while it sets us apart, it doesn’t set us above or against any of God’s other beloved ones. The mark of our baptism is not a flag to fly or a uniform to wear, but a cross, traced in oil upon our foreheads.
Jesus grew into the gifts he received at birth; the gold fit for a king; the frankincense of a healer and worker of miracles and the myrrh signifying his act of sacrificial death. We grow up into our baptism. We begin with gift and grace as we lean into the promises we make every time we renew our vows.
Trace the sign of the cross upon your forehead and remember that you are baptized, that you are beloved. Look into the faces of those you are fed up with, disagree with or afraid of and remember that they are beloved as well.
With faith, hope and love,