based on Matthew 3:13-17
You all know the story of Jesus baptism; it’s told a little differently in each gospel, but it is in all four gospels, whereas the story of Jesus birth is only told in two. I wonder what our faith would look like if we spent as much energy on Jesus’ baptism as we do on the stories of Jesus birth. We probably won’t turn society around and do that, but today, I invite you to take this opportunity of `time out’ of the ordinary, to open your heart and mind, and even your body, to the experience of baptism.
I’m going to invite you into a time of guided meditation. In our society we spend a lot of time using the top third of ourselves – we spend a lot of time in our heads. But meditation is a long-standing Christian spiritual practice, and the intention in guided mediation is to make room for God to speak and act in our body, mind and spirit. I will be using Sharon Moon’s book, The Healing Oasis and her reflection on the story of Jesus’ baptism. As we witness him at this turning point in his life, grappling with what he is to do and be, I invite you into a time of intentional `quietening’ to all distractions in and around you, and allow yourself to go on a journey. I invite you to begin by closing your eyes…
The meditation invites people to imagine themselves walking along a path through a hot, dusty field, to a place they feel drawn to. They are aware, as they come closer, that they are coming out of a deep longing for change within… to be aware of any areas of their life that are in need of change… any place in the world and culture that are in need of change. They find themselves drawn to a group of people under a tree, down by the river bank. They are listening to someone speak of the need for change, change that goes to the very core of things… this helps clarify your desire for transformation. Everyone is invited to come into the flowing river, this river of life, and let the water flow over your whole being – allowing what needs to die to flow away from you, to pass away, while the cleansing water refreshes and renews and strengthens you for a new beginning – the change you desire in your heart.
Rising from the river, you are invited to hear the affirming love of the Spirit – claiming you as beloved, as one in whom God delights.
Questions for further reflection include:What was God doing in this meditation for you?Was there any wisdom or learning for you? What desire for change did you discover welling up in you? Were you able to enter the water? What happened for you then?
The full text is found in Sharon Moon’s book, the Healing Oasis: Guided Meditations for Mind, body, and Spirit. United Church Publishing House. Copyright 1998 pages 67-71
Following the meditation I invited people to come to the baptismal font and receive a bit of water from the Jordan River on their hand or head, as a renewal of their baptismal vows, or a symbol of being a beloved child of God. I blessed them with the words: (n)_______________, you are a beloved child of God, in whom God delights. (it was lovely!)