Yesterday during Lectio Divina, we were reading Matthew's account of Jesus' baptism. I read first. Inexplicably, about half way through the reading, I choked up. I just started crying.
Next it was my friend's turn to read. I pulled myself together and tried to understand what had caused my reaction. Since there were only two of us, I read the passage a second time. Once again, halfway through, I began to cry. This time I was nearly sobbing. I had to get some tissues to wipe my nose. My makeup was smeared all over my cheeks. My face turned red.
What in the world happened?
The night before my baptism 4 1/2 years ago, I randomly opened the bible and landed on this very passage in Matthew. At the time, I didn't know what baptism meant. I had asked my minister to baptize me as a symbol of my surrender to God... but did not understand the sacramental nature of what I was doing. I don't think my minister had a clue about that either, to be honest. He knew I was earnest. He believed I was genuinely being called to do this thing. But he had no idea what it really was. We sailed past the whole Jesus issue. Being a Unitarian at the time, it didn't occur to me to specifically talk about Jesus at the baptism. It wasn't until days later that I realized that the made-it-up-as-we-went-along baptism had done something totally unexpected: I was baptized by the Holy Spirit. I became a Trinitarian. I became a Christian. And most importantly, I died and was reborn in Christ, Jesus. I died and was reborn.
Which to someone who hasn't experienced it, sounds a bit off the wall. Maybe even frightening. But to me, it was blissful. Scary at times, especially in the weeks following my baptism. But joyful nonetheless.
Yesterday, when reading the passage from Matthew, the feeling that opened the floodgates was gratitude. And a sense of calm and peace and joy, mixed with a bit of longing, too. John was unworthy, and yet Jesus chose him. I am unworthy, and yet I, too, feel I have been chosen to serve God. Mostly what I felt was a kind of calm that only comes with resting in the presence of God.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.
But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”