(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
January 12, 2020
“You are precious in my sight, and I love you.” Isaiah 43:4 (NRSV) Those are life-giving words, life-changing words. Everyone should hear those words sometime or another.
Five-and-one-half centuries after Isaiah wrote those words to the Hebrew exiles in Babylon, one of their descendants, 30-year-old Jesus of Nazareth, was standing on the bank of a river listening to his cousin John preaching. John looked and sounded a lot like those old prophets from the past.
We don’t know about the years between Jesus’ birth and that day, other than an occasion when he was twelve and his parents took him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and he became separated from his family. They finally found him back in the temple, discussing theology with the teachers and clergy. Then we heard nothing about Jesus’ adolescence and young adulthood.
We don’t know a thing about Jesus until the day he is thirty and walks out of town to the river where his cousin John is preaching and urging people to repent. John urged people to live new lives devoted to God. As a sign of their decision they walk into the river and allow John to plunge them into the water in a symbolic act as old as their own ancient beliefs: to be washed clean, to be submerged, to imitate drowning, and to emerge, to rise, to new life—to be baptized.
We don’t know what Jesus was thinking, but for some reason he decided to walk into the water.
Jesus was baptized by his cousin John. It was at that moment that everything changed for him. None of his later disciples were there that day so he must have told them when they asked him how it all began, how the sky opened and the Spirit of God, like a dove, descended and he heard a voice addressed to him. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
That is when it all begins for Jesus—the day he changed from doing what he had to do, what he was expected to do, to what he believed God wanted him to do. It was his conversion—the day when he knew, as never before, the pleasure and love of God for him; the day when he knew, perhaps for the first time, that he had a new name, that he was God’s beloved.
Parker Palmer is an educator whose books are insightful and helpful. In Let Your Life Speak, he describes struggling with depression and during his therapy remembering the poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s famous “love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other.” Palmer wrote, “Amazingly, I was offered an unmediated sign of that love when in the middle of one sleepless night during my depression I heard a voice say simply and clearly, ‘I love you, Parker.’ It was a moment of inexplicable grace.”
Your name is precious. When it is said out loud, it is about you. You are precious, no matter your feelings or thoughts, you have value. You are God’s beloved child.
Our LOGOS ministry has a motto: “You are a child of God. I will treat you that way.” Another one is: “No one has the right to treat anyone else as if they do not matter.”
Today we celebrate who we are, and whose we are.