Baptism of the Lord - January 13, 2019 (Thoman)
Is 40:1-5, 9-11 | Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7 | Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
“The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.”
- The people in John the Baptist’s time were filled with expectation. They came from
from a long history – centuries, in fact – of expectation for a Messiah. They often
discussed what is meant by “Messiah” and what the Messiah might look like. And
so, they were watchful. John the Baptist was an interesting character – and a
powerful preacher. Could he be the Messiah?
But we are no less full of expectation. We have just as many “expectations”
as they ever had. Listen to the news – read the papers – follow blogs and social
media sites – they are filled with all sorts of hints about expectation.
- we expect things will go well in the future (or we may be dismal and expect bad things)
- we have expectations for good health
- we expect our children will have a better life than we
- we expect to have a good day
- we expect to have a job
- we expect to love and be loved
Like the people of John the Baptist’s time we have expectations in our hearts –
maybe sometimes foolish expectations – and sometimes reasonable expectations.
- The question is…are our expectations ever realized? Do any of our expectations
have merit? Questions arise.
It’s easy for the issues and the problems of the world to crowd in upon us –
it’s easy to see only the negative, the pessimism, the challenges of life and doubt
our expectations could come true. And yet – as they say – hope springs eternal.
III. Luke’s gospel offers us hope and good news. In the midst of questions about
John the Baptist, it is Jesus who comes to be baptized. It is Jesus who wade’s into
John’s water – obedient, trusting, faithful. And then Luke says, “heaven was
Opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove.” A voice was heard,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Attention is drawn to Jesus
who is to be the fulfillment of the people’s hopes.
- Reflecting upon this scene and hearing this message, we, too, can have our
attention drawn again to Jesus. In the midst of our expectations and our
questions as we gather early in 2019, our hearts can be renewed….
- just as mother or father holds a newborn baby with a heart full of hope and expectation,
- or a parent watching a graduate walk across the stage in cap and gown with high hopes for their future
- or even to witness a baptism and watch the drops of water fall from the baby’s head
so, too, can look to Jesus as the one who fulfills all our expectations about life – for
ourselves, for our families, for our community, for the world.
He is the one who does and will walk with us in this new year and in our life.
We will still have questions and doubts – those never go away – but we can take
heart knowing Jesus has always been faithful – is faithful to us – and we can expect
that fidelity will continue into the future. He is the one who can tell us our
expectations can find hope – our deaths can be transformed into life.
- The theme of fulfillment is at the heart of the Christmas season. The baby born in
Bethlehem emerges today as the Messiah at his baptism. The one who is baptized
comes to baptize us in that same Spirit.
As we move into this new year, we can place all our expectations and hopes into
Jesus’ hands and heart, confident that he will help us find life and joy, meaning and
Purpose as God’s beloved child – in whom God is well pleased.
Fr. Dwayne Thoman