Come with me to the Jordan River, full of the repentant, wet to their chests in the cold muddy water. Today Jesus is here, wading into it all, eager to immerse himself. Over the riverside commotion, I heard him say that it is love, not law, that rules. That got everyone’s attention. There will be questions, debates, accusations. Soon Jesus will be struggling time and again, talking in parables, riddles, words that won’t always make sense; using all his creativity to explain God’s desire. His friends, his followers, his critics, his enemies, the curious, me; we just won’t get it. This Jesus, he’s going to walk where no one has walked before. He’s going to walk on water and people will follow. We’ll follow because he’s not afraid. His confidence will never fade, even at his death. His faith clings to him like skin; there is no division between them. This fearless faith calls us to follow.
We will leave the familiar and open our lives, our minds, our bodies and souls to experience God anew. Now God sends a dove, a sign, and speaks in Jesus’ ear. If you listen closely, you can hear it too. “This is my child,” God says. “This is my child, my beloved.” We are silent, breath held, and the air crackles with affirmation. “This is my child, my beloved with whom I am well pleased.” Now Jesus knows, once and for eternity, his ministry, his mission. I see the emotions play across his face. He is relieved and energized and filled with joy and swept away with feeling so deep and wordless that he weeps. The crowd, we kneel in the water with Jesus, waiting for God to pour over us, cleansing that same deep place. We make no effort to wipe away the tears streaming into the Jordan, his, mine, ours.