the one about who we are...
January 8, 2018, 12:00 AM

Sermon from January 7, 2018

Text: Mark 1:4-11


Grace and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So, for Christmas my father-in-law gave himself and my mother-in-law a special gift. It was a gift that was not only for them, but for their children as well. You see, the gift was AncestryDNA from Both of them ‘basically’ spit into a cup and they’ll have that analyzed and the results will give them and subsequently Erin and her brother a more detailed look at their beginnings and family history.

In essence, this little test of saliva and DNA will tell them more fully as to who they are and where they came from. I think it’s pretty neat and it’ll be fun to see where those lines of family history connect and what new branches are added into the tree.

The desire to ‘know who we are’ more fully and deeply is intrinsic to our humanity. We are always wondering where we began so that we can better know where we we’ve come from and where we’ve yet to go. A few years ago, there was a show that looked into the familial histories of celebrities. It was neat to hear their family stories. But, as with anyone who delves into their past, there are always things that we can’t wait to discover, yet there are still some things that we wish never saw the light of day.

In essence, it is a continued quest to determine our identity. To more fully discover who and whose we are.

Our readings this morning have everything to do with identity. We heard the beginnings of our scripture in Genesis as God spoke over the formless void of ‘water and darkness,’ creating and separating the light from the shadow. That moment where God broke into creation to declare it good and well, to bestow the eternal and everlasting blessing of goodness from God. We then jumped to Jesus’ baptism where again God tears open the heavens to speak. The Holy Spirit descends upon our Lord and he hears God state, “You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Jesus’ identity is rooted in the beginnings of creation as he is the one foretold to be the Word and the Light come into the world. Just as God used good words in creation, God also declared the light to be good as well. It wasn’t a monologue, it wasn’t a long poem of triumph or grandeur. God speaks simply and beautiful.

It is good. With you I am happy.

Jesus belongs to God because he is God and of God, but Jesus also belongs to humanity as he steps into and is washed by the same waters that we are washed from. As a theologian wrote recently – Jesus’ identities in God and humanity are forever linked, undivided, and whole. His identity is built from the ground up and from the heavens down.

This day, as we celebrate our Lord’s baptism, we in turn celebrate our own baptisms as well. In these waters we have been washed and welcomed into the community and family of God. Like our brother Jesus, God has looked upon us and declared to the world what God has already known:

You are good. With you I am happy.

Within the vast history of what makes us ‘us’ there are an assortment of wonderful accolades, but also those places that make us squirm and sigh that that is a part of our individual and collective history. Yet, God has still declared us to be ‘good’ in these waters. It doesn’t change our past, but it washes our present and future. In these waters, that which tries to hold us back is removed and washed away.

It doesn’t change the past, but it doesn’t impact our future in God’s eyes.

In these waters where we are declared ‘beloved’ we see and know that each declaration of belovedness is wrapped up in our neighbors belovedness as well. If God has called me good, then God has declared my neighbor as good too!

In that knowledge of mutual declaration of beloved, we are called to serve with and for one another. We are wrapped up together in this community and family of God.

The thing I love most about baptisms – apart from the fact that we are told what God already knows – that we are good – is that it isn’t a static moment in our history. I mean, it is a little bit. There was the moment before and after our baptism, but those waters that we were washed and welcomed in move and flow through our whole life.

Our baptism – in which we remember today – moves us forward in the life and faith that God has imbued into each of us. In baptism we don’t just stand there, but in these holy waters, we are moved and pushed forward in love and grace by God. We don’t stay in the same place, but by these waters we are formed and shaped.

In baptism promises were made and many of us affirmed those words in our confirmation. We took notice of what was promised by others and vowed to continue in those promises: to live among God’s faithful, to hear the Word of God and to share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ our Lord through word and deed, to serve all people, following Jesus’ example, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

The waters of our baptism move us through those promises. We are shaped and formed in those words and by this stream. We are swept up into this faith with one another – together.

Soon we again will make public affirmation of what has already been done. We will affirm our baptisms again.

And as we say those words and make those promises once more, we remember that our identity is wrapped up in these waters and in those words of our God. The one who created from the formless void, the one who spoke over Jesus as the heavens were torn to proclaim him beloved, so too does God speak over each of us.

Those words that God speaks are not ornate. They don’t drag on. Surprisingly, they are simple and simply stated. Yet, those words that God speaks over us in our baptism are words that move us. They move us emotionally, rocking our core as we know who and whose we are. They move us forward to live into the promises made for us and by us. The promises we affirm this morning as we live into the waters we have been washed with.

Those words declared by God, were already known by our Creator, but we get to hear them spoken over us.

You are mind. You are beloved. With you I am well pleased.

That is our identity. Sure, its fun to see where our family comes from and I am eager to see where Erin’s family tree shakes out. But, my identity? Our identity?

We are children of God. All of us. All of us.

We are good. As are our neighbors. Let’s move and work together in love, respect, and grace. Amen.

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