“You are my son, the beloved; in you I am well pleased”.
Mark 1 4-11
Have you ever had one of those days when wanted to repeat the day again? A day when you wanted to start over again? There are so many things personally I wish I could go back and do differently.
Whether it is a day or a decade there are times when we wish we could go back and do things differently. Choose different words to speak. Act in a different way. Handle a relationship better. Sometimes we just want to do life differently. I think the wishing goes deeper than just doing things differently. More than anything we want to be different. What we do arises out of and reveals our identity, ‘who’ we are, how we see ourselves, see one another, and see the world. Being and doing are closely connected.
Wishing we could do things differently, and the deeper wish to be a different creation, is really the wish for a first day. Think about some of your first days. The first day as a married person; the first day as a parent; the first day of that job or the vocation you had been waiting for and working toward. The first day you took seriously, as a matter of life and death, your faith. First days are filled with light. They hold the promise of all that might be.
There is an excitement, a newness, and innocence to first days. First days are vibrant, alive, filled with dreams and possibilities. We can imagine that is how God looked at the first day, in the beginning. No harsh words had been spoken. No feelings had been hurt. No relationships had been broken. There was no guilt or regret. There was only light; the light of life, the light of love, the light of promise and hope; the light of God. And it was good; he said it was. The first day is always a day of creation.
Sometimes people say, “Oh, I wish I could go back and ….” a married couple might say, “We want to go back to the day when our marriage was….” They are all looking for the first day. We cannot go back to the way things were. First day wishing, however, is not really about turning back time. It is about becoming a new creation, a new being. Ultimately, it is about returning to the waters of Jesus’ baptism.
Every time we return to the baptismal waters we return to the first day. Creation and baptism cannot be separated. They are intimately connected and mirror each other. Think about what Genesis says and how St. Mark describes Jesus’ baptism.
In the beginning a wind (or breath, or spirit) of God swept over the face of the waters.
At Jesus’ baptism the spirit (or breath or wind) of God descended on Jesus as he is coming up out of the water.
In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.”
At Jesus’ baptism God said, “You are my Son, the Beloved.”
In the beginning “God saw that the light was good.”
At Jesus’ baptism God was “well pleased.”
Creation and Jesus baptism are God’s gifts to humanity. Everything God does God does for humanity. Jesus did not need to be baptized. We needed him to be baptized. The baptismal water did not sanctify Jesus; he sanctified the baptismal water. His baptism is not the means by which we identify with him, but the means by which he identifies with us. Our baptism allows us to participate in his baptism.
Through Jesus our humanity was present and baptized in his baptism. Our humanity was the humanity upon which the spirit descended. Our humanity was the humanity to whom the Father spoke and with whom he was well pleased. Our humanity was recreated in Jesus’ baptism. It is the first day. In baptism we are a new creation, a new being.
Every time we return to the baptismal waters we reclaim our identity in Jesus as beloved sons and daughters. Every time we return to the baptism waters God again manifests and reveals himself in humanity. Every time we return to the baptismal waters we return to that first day of light, love, life, and the promise of all that might be.
Whatever our life has been or might now be, the baptismal waters wait for us. So let’s return to the water. Let the waters of God’s life wash and rid us of fear, resentment, and despair. Dive into the mercy of God. Immerse yourself in the water of God’s love. Splash in the waves of God’s forgiveness. Backstroke through the pool of God’s grace. Delve deep into the gift of having been created in the image and likeness of God. Drift in the stillness of God’s peace. These are the waters of new birth. So come on in, the water’s fine! Amen.
The Rev'd Mo Lunn, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 10/01/2021