January 9 – Epiphany 1A, the weekend of the Tucson shooting


"If the Baptism of Jesus means anything to us today, it is because, as St. Augustine pointed out, Jesus' human mother means that he is both fully human as well as being fully divine. When he comes up out of the water, and the voice of God is heard by the children of Israel for the first time in thousand of years, speaking of the delight that God has in him, it is also speaking of God's delight in us.

But we are only in this scene because, as the Prayer Book says, we are part of the body of Christ. And it is our participation in this body that will ultimately give us the ability to overcome our tendency to objectify another and subject them to violence. Because as long as we can see each other as members of the same body, we will not be able to dismiss them as "scum", "vermin" or "parasites" as the graffiti I have seen here in Arizona has described our President.

And so if we are to stand against the flames of violence and hatred that even now are licking at the edges of our state, we are going to have to live into our vocation as members of the Body of Christ. We are going to have create humanizing relationships with each other that will make it impossible to objectify our sister and brother. We are going to have to make our city, our state and our country into our neighborhood. We must build walls of love with each one of us serving as a brick in that wall. And those walls will stand against the flames.

Some people tell me that I'm being naive. I probably am. But violence begets violence. By preaching love, the Church has stood fast against empire after empire. It is our way. And it's time we got to it."

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The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. WmpAUL says

    No problem with the recommendations for humanizing relationship and Lord knows I have labored for years asking people to tone down the shrill rhetoric. But, alas, the Dean seems to be too close to the PB’s mantra when he says “is also speaking of God’s delight in us.” Well, No. Jesus’ baptism is not about God being pleased with us, or at least not so simpliciter, as it is forever being chanted by KJS et al., Consider, of course, the mission ahead of Jesus for which the baptism is strength and endorsement: it is a mission that exposes how God is not pleased with us, even as God loves us. God is for us, but that is much different than delight. For in being pro nobis God has to expose our wickedness, fears, evasions, faithflessness . . .which he does in the mission of Jesus. Yes, there are articulations of the faith that have no sense of God’s delight in us or God’s fundamental, irrevocable commitment for us. But to slide from the heavenly pronouncement made for Jesus and on Jesus, to us, just misses too many steps, too many features of Jesus’ mission and life, and tries to do much with Baptism, which is alarmingly overplayed in much of our denomination and routinely severed from Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
    At least the Dean does not hold out for consideration, as our PB does in her latest ‘book,’ the idea that ‘Jesus BECAME the Word at his baptism.’ For that, at least, I am truly thankful.

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