“Chosen by God”

On January 13, the Rev. Teresa Welborn preaches on Luke 3:15-22.

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people. 19 But Herod the ruler, who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

As a child, I enjoyed seeing my home and the church decorated for the Christmas season. Each January, I felt a bit deflated when the decorations were taken down. Even as adults we can feel like this. For many, the holiday season is festive and filled with great joy. Now what?

One of my favorite responses to the question of “Now what?” comes from theologian Howard Thurman, who wrote:

When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, 
when the kings and princes are home, 
when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, 

to heal the broken, 
to feed the hungry, 
to release the prisoner, 
to rebuild the nations, 
to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.

In other words, Christ is born and it is now time to get on with the business of following Him.

This week in the Christian calendar we celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday. We remember that Jesus was baptized as a sign of his humility and his commitment to embrace the fullness of his humanity. This remembrance also invites us to reflect on or anticipate our own baptism. Above all, this is a time to remember God’s unconditional love through Jesus Christ for all. How will we follow Jesus in this New Year? How will we partner with God in the ongoing work of transforming the world?

Come join us this Sunday as we consider both the gift and the responsibility that come with being chosen by God.