In the prescribed readings for the Christian church, many of us have been hearing stories known as the Baptism of the Lord scriptures. This is a time in our calendars when we remember Christ being baptized by John in the Jordan River, and also a time when many of us are invited to remember our baptisms too. One of my favorite parts of the Biblical story is this image of the heavens opening and voice coming from them calling out to Jesus, “You are my beloved child in whom I delight!” as Jesus rises from the waters. What a gift to him…. And to all of us, to hear these words spoken about one who is baptized, about one who is coming up from deep waters!
At church this last Sunday we celebrated the baptism of two toddler aged boys. The children present all went to the baptismal font and got the water for the baptism and sat around to witness this act. And the first child, a boy around three years old, watched intently as the water was poured into the bowl and blessed. He looked like he was ready to climb inside this small bowl of water to fully claim his baptism! A bunch of words were spoken, and still this boy was looking into the bowl of water. The pastor invited him to be first, and she took her hand, filled it with water, and placed it on the child’s head, three times. Then his mom and sponsors all placed their hands on him to say a pray for him. The pastor then moved on to the second child, but my eyes were caught on this first boy. He was standing as still as could be (a first for this wiggler!) and there was a look on his face that was hard to describe. He had a small smile, his eyes were soft and unfocused on anything we could see, and he appeared to be listening to something inaudible to the rest of us. It was both serious and joyful, these words he was hearing. He stood there for a full minute or more, basking in what he was feeling and hearing. Then he gave a small nod and decided he was done, looked up at his mom, and the moment was gone.
As I watched him, my eyes filled with tears. His beatific look had touched me deep inside. It was as though he were hearing those words from the Divine…. You are my child. With you I am well pleased. In you I delight! He looked like he knew he was loved, and well loved in that moment. He was both at peace and a place of surety that this was true and would never change. The softness that came from him was filled with love. He seemed surrounded by angels whispering “in you I delight. You are beloved,” over and over to him, hoping that he would remember this for the rest of his life.
I know how unlikely this is though, both through my own life and from sitting with others as they share their longing to feel accepted, loved, perhaps even unconditionally loved. At some point in our lives (sometimes before we are even born) we begin to doubt this fact… we learn that we can (maybe) be loved if we act a certain way, be quiet at the right time, do a certain thing, become a certain person, earn a certain salary…. The list goes on and on. Day after day we are told we can be beloved if….
Yet God tells us something different.
We are Loved.
We are delighted in.
There is nothing we can do to stop this.
AND it’s so hard to believe, to trust, to hold on to. We may catch it for a second, or for a day even. But to live into this in our life is a constant struggle, not to mention being counter cultural!
I believe, in this day and age, we have to remember. We have to reclaim this belovedness. We have to stop trusting what the world tells us and, instead, tune in to the small whispers of the Spirit singing our story and origin based in love back to us, back to our heart, back to our spirit, back to our center. For when we can live out of this place with humbleness, even if we just believe it less than 1%, we will live differently. We will see the world as a more gentle place. We will see other people as divine sparks of love. We will work for the world we can glimpse and believe in. And, in time, the world will change to become a place we, in our beloved state, can live in once again without feeling the fractured dissonance that surrounds us.
So will you join me in listening to the whispers? In paying attention to the song of the angels? In stopping for a moment each day to believe it?
You are beloved.
In you the Creator of All delights!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.