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“The moment [Jesus] came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, came down on him.  Along with the Spirit, a voice:  “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”  (The Message – Mark 1:11)

     When Jesus was baptized, it was his inititation into his ministry.  John the Baptist had preached that people needed to repent and turn their lives over to God, to begin living in the ways of God and giving up their old ways.  He also promised that there would be One who came after him who would baptize with the Spirit, changing them from the inside out.

     Jesus appeared in the wilderness and presented himself to John for baptism.  As he came out of the water, a voice tore open the sky (notice it wasn’t just a gentle speaking!) and affirmed Jesus as God’s beloved Son.  Eugene Peterson’s translation (or paraphrase) in The Message is a moving claim of Jesus.  God named and claimed Jesus as God’s own Son.

     In baptism, we also are named and claimed as God’s own.  The water reminds us of the washing away of the old life and putting on the new.  We are reminded in the ritual of the presence of the triune God as we are baptized into the life of Christ and empowered to live that life with the presence of God’s Spirit with us.  It’s God promise to us that we are loved beyond understanding, beyond our comprehension.

     Baptism isn’t just a ritual in the church, but God’s way of marking us as God’s own.  Baptism is our identity as followers of Jesus Christ, and a reminder to us that we are initiated into God’s family at our baptism – it’s like God is signing the adoption papers officially.  God is at work in the baptism; that’s why we don’t re-baptize.  Affirming our baptism is a good thing and a great reminder to us that we are truly loved by God and claimed as God’s own children who are then sent forth, even as Jesus was to share the Good News of God’s love in the world.

     Try something using the words at the end of the scripture passage above.  Say this to yourself, “___(your name)___, you are my son/daughter, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”  How did that feel?  Do you know that you are God’s son/daughter?  Do you know that God has chosen you and marked you with God’s great and amazing love and grace and that you are the pride of God’s life?

     It’s very humbling.  What a gift!  What a wonderful heavenly Parent we have!  Praise God!

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