Baptism of the Lord B

Meaning and purpose.  Meaning and purpose is what drives us; our desire for it and our need for it is the energy that moves us.  The search for meaning and purpose consumes us as we deal with the most existential questions of our lives – Why do I matter? What am I do? What purpose do I serve?

The search for meaning and purpose is as elusive as it is critical.  It is as if we are cast upon the sea searching for an ultimate destination, to finally arrive where we are meant to be.  There are times when we run well with a consistent breeze behind us as when we begin a family or find a job or discover a vocation.  We are moving toward what makes us whole.  And then there are times when we face the storms and torrents of life.  The buffeting we receive at moments of tragedy and loss that make us question our meaning and doubting our purpose.  There are other times of quieter desperation in our search.  Breathless days of windless calm that leaves us never advancing, still and spinning in the vastness if the ocean.  And our arrival and our ultimate meaning and purpose seems remote or unlikely.

But perhaps we can look at this in a different way.  Maybe we can look back to the shore to understand our meaning and purpose.  Maybe the search is certain to fail unless we understand from whence we came and the only way to find our destination is to plot our course from the beginning.  It is in the start that we find our finish.  In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, we must come to the water.

Jesus came to the water. Jesus came to the water and it was spectacular.  As he emerged from the Jordan River following his baptism by John, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon him.  Then a voice was heard from heaven announcing, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” And it is clear – Christ belongs to God.

It was very much a thing.  But it was not just a Jesus thing, it was our thing as well.  Jesus stirred the waters of our baptism in that moment.  Through our baptism we are made God’s daughters and sons through the Spirit of adoption.  Soaked in the waters of the trinity, we are covered with diving love. We are recipients of the promises heard at our baptism, “You have put on Christ.”  “You are temple of the Holy Spirit.”  You are anointed as “priest, prophet and king.”  What is offered is no less than God’s complete acceptance.  God says to us as God said to Jesus. “You are my beloved Son; you are my beloved daughter; with you I am well pleased.” As Christ belongs to God, we belong to Christ.

Perhaps the answer was always on the shore.  After all, what could say more about our meaning than this undeniable affirmation of our dignity?   The meaning of our life is that we are chosen, called and blessed by our Creator.  Our purpose is to know that we are loved and to share God’s love with others.  Our ultimate destination is the peace of eternal life.  Perhaps the meaning of our lives is not a hidden island lost among the immensity of the sea. Perhaps our generous God has already implanted within us all that we need.  We need no longer ask why do I exist and what is it all about.  Our generous God has blessed us with all we need:  goodness and beauty and truth.

Oh there is still searching to be done.  If I really understood the implications of my own baptism, I would never be upset or fearful or sin.  I would always be kind, just and loving.  I am still just a little bit away from all that.  Our journey is finally the uncovering of the blessings that God has given us, and that is a task never quite done.  But we need no longer ponder if there is any answer and when we are lost, we know there is a safe harbor of God’s mercy and kindness.  The answer is not our there.  It is already ours.  We have found our home. After all, Christ is God’s and we are Christ’s.