January 12, 2018
This Sunday I am excited to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord Jesus (readings for this Sunday may be found here, which allows us to remember our own baptisms in thanksgiving). We need this, especially after yesterday’s news cycle.
Ringing in my ears is Nathaniel’s question to Philip, from John 1:43-51, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Indeed, can anything come out of a two-bit, backwoods, dare-I-say third world Galilean town? Not exactly the vulgar word I have heard referenced but much the same, deep-seeded sentiment.
Hang with me, folks….
Baptism, indeed, has political implications for us. Because in baptism, we go down into the waters, dying to ourselves, our prejudices (often daily, I confess!). Then when we rise with Christ, the love of Christ compels us to respect the dignity of every single human being, for every child of God bears God’s image (Gen 1:26).
This ugliness that reared its head from Washington isn’t really about the immigration issues before us, although we just celebrated a season which ends with the Holy Family as refugees in Egypt to keep their child safe. God in Christ, raised in Nazareth, baptized in the River Jordan, calls us to pray for our elected officials, because they are the ones in positions of public trust. And they sometimes get it wrong…really, really wrong…as we all do when we, Christ-follows, forget our baptism. So when we are in leadership positions, whether we are teachers, parents, or elected officials, such prejudices and resulting language has huge implications. It’s not what this is or isn’t about; no, it’s WHO it’s about. It’s about Jesus of Nazareth, who reminds us that no matter where you are born, no matter what your immigration status, no matter your skin color or nationality, we are all God’s children. Jesus asks us to wade into the baptismal waters, clothed in Christ, to remember who we and how God desires us to be in relationship with the world. (Galatians 3:26-29)
After Nathaniel asked his ugly question about Jesus, Philip simply replied, “Come and see.” I invite you to do the same and help move our community forward by hearing Michelle Alexander, author of the best-seller, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. She will deliver the keynote address for the UNC Asheville’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week. It’s free, open to everyone, no tickets required, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, in Kimmel Arena at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center. The doors open at 6 p.m. and seating is first-come, first-served. This event is presented by UNC Asheville with support from our own Blue Ridge District of the UMC!.
See you Sunday to remember our baptism!