Homily for Baptism of the Lord, Jan 11, 2009: Theophany!

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Homily for Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Acts 10:34-38
Mark 1:7-11

If you are wondering, “Did Jesus need to be baptized?”
then you’re asking a very good question.
(And the answer is No!)
We just heard Mark’s account of this story but in Matthew’s version,
John the Baptist asks Jesus that very question:
“Should I baptize you, Lord?”

But this scene in the gospel is more about something called theophany.
Theophany - rhymes with eiphany!
Remember that last week we celebrated Epiphany,
a word that means manifestation to all.
Well, in the Eastern and Orthodox Churches
today is called the Feast of the Theophany:
the manifestation of God as Father, Son and Spirit.

It’s a day when we celebrate the gift of God saying to us,
“I want to show you who I am!
I reveal myself to you because you please me.
I show myself to you because I love you.
I uncover what is hidden in me because I desire you.”

The language is seductive
(I love you, I uncover myself, you please me)
because God’s purpose here is to seduce us:
to divine intimacy, unending peace, sweet justice,
exquisite truth and an embrace of unconditional love.

Remember how St. John described God?
God is love,
and those who abide in love abide in God
and God in them…

Into the arms of such a God does the Lord seek to draw us.
The theophany at Christ’s baptism took place
on the shore of the River Jordan some 2,000 years ago.
But where is God revealed today?
What is the 2009 version of the Theophany?

The first answer is obvious – I just gave it to you:
wherever there is love – there is God.
It’s no wonder that we so easily say, God is everywhere.
Where there is love –
there is God revealed, disclosed, manifest, uncovered.

I was speaking to a young dad just this week and he shared with me
something beautiful his 5-year-old daughter said
when she told her mother,
“Mommy, I think God is the air we breathe when we laugh and sing.”
Not bad theology for a 5 year old!
This was her version of “God is everywhere.”

Indeed, God is the air we breathe in our joy
- and the tears we weep in our sorrow and pain.

Everywhere we find love, we find God.
Everywhere there is joy, there is the breath of God’s Spirit.
Everywhere there is self-giving, there is Christ.

But in addition to the “everywhere” places in which God is revealed,
there are also the particular and sacred moments of God’s revelation.

Every time the scriptures are proclaimed at this lectern
God’s voice is heard; God’s Word is spoken;
and God’s truth is uncovered.

Every time we sing God’s praise,
the glory of the Lord is revealed.

Every time we gather in Jesus’ name,
he is among us.

Every time we pray together,
the Spirit of Christ breathes that prayer from within us.

Every time we come to this altar,
God sets the table and invites us to join him for supper.
Every time we bless and break the Lord’s bread,
every time we bless and pour and share the Lord’s cup,
he is present among us in the gift of the Eucharist.

The story of the baptism of the Lord
is more about what is revealed to us than what happened to him.
For what was uncovered and disclosed on that riverbank
is revealed and given today
to each of us who share with Christ
his Father’s love and his Spirit’s peace.

For we, too -all of us-
are beloved daughters and sons,
in whom God is well pleased,
God who is the air we breathe when we laugh and sing.


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