Today is one of those times when it seems impossible to choose a topic for consideration, not because I find nothing as a possible focus but because there is too much to feel and then try to say! I was immediately distracted by the headline about the Golden Globes award ceremony held last night and I took precious time to read the report in the Washington Post. It sounded as if the purpose of everyone wearing black and the tone of acceptance speeches were purposeful and not crass but meaningful. As I left there for the USCCB website and found that we are celebrating the feast of Baptism, traditionally held in my experience on the Sunday after the Epiphany, I was surprised but somehow it felt sensible.
On my trek for coffee this morning I had been feeling an urgency that said, “Time to get back to business” – a need for routine, I might say. The whole Christmas season has felt like a time-out-of-time. Day after day I have found myself (and heard others) asking “What day is today?” as if “normal” had disappeared in favor of living by the weather. That’s a good example too because last night I read weather predictions for the week as a warming trend and today it has shifted back to a continuing deep freeze.
Back to the USCCB website. There are four choices for a first reading and two possible psalm responses for this feast! How is one supposed to choose between Isaiah and the Acts of the Apostles or Psalm 29 over Isaiah 12? (Isaiah seems always to have a lot to say!) Every one of the readings has merit for today as a call to consider the concept of baptism, a call that is offered and must be accepted each day and deepened as we wake up to the needs of the world.
I was baptized when I was three weeks old. No one took pictures so I have no evidence of the event. I learned later that there was an indelible mark on my soul, a stamp of “Christian” that was meant never to be erased. It got renewed at special times along the way by other sacraments, religious vows and anniversaries as well as by the opportunity to participate in many baptismal celebrations for other people and hear the words that accompany the ritual actions.
Today it all comes together as I am awash in reminders. “I have grasped you by the hand,” says the Lord to Isaiah, and later, “Seek the Lord while he may be found,” Isaiah shouts to us. Then there is Peter telling the people in the house of Cornelius that “God shows no partiality” as he tells them the stories of Jesus and how “God was with him.” John’s letter tells us that we become God’s children by loving one another and the psalmist calls us to “give to God the glory!” In conclusion I am treated once again to Mark’s version of the baptism of Jesus in all its cinematic imagery and I feel as if there is no place to go from here. I want only to sit and ponder the effects of God’s promises and the responsibility I have to live my baptism.
I just looked at the time. It’s 7:53am and I am due to leave the house by 8:30. I just need a few more minutes before I can move, before I am settled enough to “Go with God,” as my friend, Barbara, says to me often as I leave her. It is enough. Amen.