Posted on Jan 09, 2019 by Pastor Dave Whetter
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all the best in 2019.
This coming Sunday, Jan. 13, we will celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord, which means we will read about the baptism of Jesus (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22). According to Luke, after Jesus was baptized, everyone around heard God speak, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 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’ ” (Luke 3:21-22).
In this story, we hear one of the ways God revealed himself in this world, and it reminded me of a story I read several years ago in a book by Kelly Fryer called Reclaiming the “L” Word. The “L” word, by the way, is the word “Lutheran.” Fryer was a pastor in the ELCA for many years, but most recently ran for governor in Arizona last year. She has written many books, and this book is about reclaiming our Lutheran heritage and being bold about it. It is a short book, and one I highly recommend. Anyway, in the second chapter, Fryer tells a story about how, when she was in seminary, there was one day in particular that still stands out for her. It was a beautiful day outside, and while she was sitting in class, she realized that she was bored out of her mind, along with the rest of her classmates. Well, it must have been obvious to the professor, because Fryer writes, “Suddenly the professor slapped the notebook shut and stopped talking. He said he wasn’t going to waste one more breath on us. But before he left the room, he picked up a piece of chalk and went to the board. He drew a gigantic ARROW pointing down, like this:
After he drew the arrow, he stood back and said, ‘If you understand that, you understand everything you need to know about being a Christian … who also happens to be a Lutheran.’ And then he left the room.”
Now, at this point, Fryer said her first thought was, “He thinks we are all going to hell!” But then she goes on to say, “The next time we gathered for class he began by drawing the same arrow on the board. This time, as he began to speak, he had our full attention. ‘Here’s what it means,’ he said. ‘God always comes down. God always comes down. There is never anything that we can ever do to turn that arrow around and make our way UP to God. God comes down in Jesus. And God still comes down, in the bread and the wine (of communion), in the water (of baptism), and in the fellowship of believers. God ALWAYS comes down.”
Brothers and sisters, I pray that, as we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord this Sunday and as a faith community we affirm our own baptisms, you remember that God always comes down. God is with you now and God has promised to remain with you always.
Shalom, Pastor Dave