A king who had no sons to succeed him posted a sign inviting young men in his kingdom to become his adopted son and rule after him. There were only two qualifications. The boy must love God and neighbor deeply.
A young peasant boy felt moved to apply, but he lacked decent clothes for the interview. Finally, he saved enough money for the clothes. As he neared the palace, he came upon a shivering old man begging for clothes. The boy was moved to pity and gave the beggar the clothes he had brought for the interview. Then the boy went to the castle, wondering if he would be admitted in rags.
The boy did gain admittance. When he came to the throne room he couldn't believe his eyes. On the throne sat the shivering old man. The king smiled and said, "Welcome, my son."
There is a destiny given to you as God's adopted son or daughter. From humble circumstance to shining glory. From rags to empowerment. On you his favor rests. Do not resist the awareness and realization of the destiny given to you.
By allowing himself to be immersed in the waters of the Jordan, Jesus symbolically immersed himself in our humanity. Jesus showed the way to conversion by coming among us to live out his life in our presence, so we could live out our life in his presence. He showed us the way, though he himself did not need conversion and purification. All four gospels narrate the Baptism of Jesus, indicating its importance. Its significance is that it identifies Jesus with sinful humanity whom he came to save. It is the beginning of the ministry that will forever forge the direction of God's relationship with his people. Baptism makes each of us privileged as chosen servant, and following on that, a suffering servant.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not instant holiness. It is:
God always takes the initiative in what helps us to salvation. Our choice is to cooperate.
The baptism of Jesus was in public and witnessed by others. By our baptism we are introduced to the church community. Godparents become our sponsors and guides.
God the Father delighted in Jesus as an agent of a special mission. When we listen to him, God delights in us. Fulfill the hunger for more of his word by pondering in prayer.
By the death of Jesus on the cross the heavens were ripped open, and the pathway to the promised risen life is offered.
You do not need to be a famous saint to have an experience of God. God shows his presence in different ways and places for different people--becoming deeply aware of God through poetry, music, dance, science, aeronautics, giving birth to a baby, dreams, new awareness or perspective, hopes, inspirations, desires, and more.
Through our baptism in God's Spirit we can pray powerfully for one another. I am going to challenge you here and now to do just that. You may never have done this before, so now is the time for a new baptism for you. It is as simple as putting a hand on the shoulder of another and saying, "God bless you." You can share or ask if there is a special need for prayer. Or pray together for the reform and renewal of our church, or for all young families here. Be creative. Go ahead.
Lord, continue in us your precious baptismal identity as chosen people who serve one another. Amen.1