Tuesday, September 20, 2016

20 September 2016
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22 (NRSV)

            Good morning, welcome. In today’s Gospel the ministry of John the Baptist comes to an end, and the ministry of Jesus begins. Luke tells us there was a spirit of expectation among the people and many were wondering whether or not John himself was the promised Messiah. John tells the crowd one is coming who will baptize not with water but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John’s words hold a promise of renewal and judgement. Renewal according by the Holy Spirit; judgement by the divine fire. John’s ministry ends when Herod has him imprisoned. John had been calling Herod out for marrying Herodias, Herod’s brother’s wife. Herod, never one to repent, responded by locking John up and eventually having him beheaded.
            Jesus’ ministry begins with His baptism, His confirmation by God the Father and anointing by the Holy Spirit. In these few verses we see a picture of Jesus as both fully human and fully God. Over John’s protests Jesus is baptized-he completely identifies Himself with the humanity He has come to save. He is immediately confirmed as God the son by a voice from heaven and visibly anointed with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. This is what happens at the moment of our conversion-we are identified with Christ, affirmed by the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Now, I realize some faith traditions may take issue with this. That’s ok. My main point is the entire Trinity is involved in our conversion; it is a supernatural event.
            Which leads to this-we also have here a very clear picture of the Trinity in action. Jesus is about to carry out God’s plan. God Himself affirms this when He says “you are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”. Jesus will carry out this plan in the power and under the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. This is how it works for us too. The plan belongs to God. Jesus makes it possible. Since he was fully human, He relates us to God. Since He was fully God, He relates God to us. The Holy Spirit makes it all real; makes it all known. When we leave Plan A, the Spirit gives us Plan B. He can do this as often as necessary because He knows the mind of God, and He knows our minds as well.
            Now, Jesus didn’t need a Plan B because He was the plan. We need Plan B’s, lots and lots of them. But God is flexible; He has enough Plan B’s for us all and He holds them all simultaneously. This is why Paul can say we know God works everything for good. And this is why I believe the spiritual disciplines are so important. They put us in a place where we can connect to God, where we can be flexible too, where we can literally go with the flow.
            I encourage you all to spend some time today meditating on the Trinity. Consider their different roles and how they relate to you personally. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus interacting with the Father (in John He says He only does what He sees the Father do). Throughout Acts we see humans interacting with the Holy Spirit. It is no exaggeration to say the relationship between God-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-is the basis, the foundational principle, the example, for all human relationships (Paul hints at this in Ephesians, speaking of marriage, itself a foundational relational concept). Take some time to listen for God. See if you can learn to discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Resolve to obey what you hear, as best as you can. Be patient, persevere. This is what we were created for. Let God change your life; truly change your life.

May the Lord bless you this day and protect you this night. JRG   

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