by the Rev. Dr. John Fairless
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When something is "ours," we tend to take particular care of it -- something known as "pride of ownership."
We feel an attachment to things that we have purchased or that have personally been given to us; the feeling of care is particularly acute when it is something that we have made with our own hands. (Why else do I still have the useless plaster cast apple that I made for crafts during Vacation Bible School as a child?)
Isaiah informs us of the basis of the great care and protection of God, who will ensure our well-being through water, rivers, fire, and flame. God has created us, formed us. The definitive statement from the Holy One is, "You are mine."
We all take care of our own -- God does no less!
The psalm reflects the power of the voice of God, which will be significant at the baptism of Jesus. When God's voice is heard, things happen. Big, powerful, consequential things.
Remember when you were a kid and your heard your parent call you? You could tell by the sound of your mom or dad's voice just how urgent the need for you to respond. Almost innately, kids can tell how much "liberty" they have in deciding whether to come when called or not.
Do we exercise the same liberty when deciding to respond to the voice of God?
This passage has always seemed a little quizzical to me; the believers up in Samaria weren't quite "complete" due to their apparent ignorance of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Receiving "only" the baptism in the name of Jesus wasn't necessarily inferior -- after all, what is it that saves us?
(Hmmm, come to think of it, we may have to have some further discussion on that. Probably will be a hot topic on this week's Lectionary Lab Live podcast. See the link to the right!)
Whatever the theological disposition of the baptism question, we see that a little prayer and conversation got it all worked out for the Samaritans. Might do wonders for us, as well.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
We are certainly wont to raise our hopes and expectations when we find ourselves in need of some good news.
Maybe the economy is really going to crank back up this year; I expect that our President and Congress will take positive action and accomplish real bipartisan cooperation. It sure would be nice if my congregation could see some numerical growth in the coming months; I anticipate that the pastor and church leaders will enact some bold new plans for producing new members.
Our expectations may be appropriate and rational, or they may not be. Certainly, as John did the best job he could do, there were those who placed Messiah-like expectations on him. "Not so fast, my friends," the itinerant evangelist proclaimed. "I have my place, but I also know my place. The one you are looking for is going to do things very differently from me."
As it turned out, the Messiah was right there among them, living as they lived and doing as they did. He even came to be baptized by John. Why? Well, there's another healthy debate (see note above about joining us on Lec Lab Live this week.)
Suffice it to say that God spoke and made it known that God was well-pleased with the life of God's Son. As we imitate Him, we seek that same pleasure and blessing of God.
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton