Sunday, January 13, 2008

How the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus and the Experience of Retreat and the Nature of Love Letters Come Together for Me These Days

Think of someone you would like to have as a friend… or as a better friend. And then imagine somehow receiving this message from the person:

I don’t know how this will come out.
I have wanted for a while to tell you how much I admire you,
how highly I think of you.
I admire what you do with your days.
I like to watch you thinking.
I think people must be better and happier for being with you.
I hope one day to talk with you as one friend to another, face to face.
I will do what I can to make that happen. I promise.

I have recently begun to think that Jesus somehow wanted to get that kind of message to John the Baptist.

I think that Jesus admired John and what John did with his days. I think Jesus met people who were better and happier for having been with John. I think Jesus was excited by the way John the Baptist spoke about what was important in life. The way John spoke about life got Jesus—and crowds of other people—wanting to spend time with John. People went where they knew that the things important in their lives would get named.

And something happened to Jesus at the Jordan… it was about being with John, AND it was about being with the other people who had gone there for the same reason, AND it was about being with the God who had brought them all together for an unforgettable experience… an experience until then, I would guess, not regularly available to Jesus either in the synagogue at Nazareth or even at the Temple in Jerusalem. It was a crucial experience for people who may have felt that some part of their lives wasn’t working, that their lives weren’t joyful enough or generous enough or honest enough and they didn’t know how to change that.

When Jesus went into the desert after being baptized by John it was to savor the message that had come through to him with that experience… that there was a God who wanted people together in that way, that there was a God who wanted people – as they were.

I propose that it was that experience that became the heart of the mission of Jesus. In time it became the experience of the women and men of his day who welcomed Jesus into their lives. In the centuries that followed, it became the reason to gather people together and tell them to get ready to hear an amazing message, an incredible message. And the experience of the followers of Jesus over the centuries was that God had a message for each of them (for each of us) that sounded something like this:

I don’t know how this will come out.
I have wanted for a while to tell you how much I admire you,
how highly I think of you.
I admire what you do with your days.
I like to watch you thinking.
I think people must be better and happier for being with you.
I hope one day to talk with you as one friend to another, face to face.
I will do what I can to make that happen. I promise.

2 comments:

MperiodPress said...

Friend,

"People went where they knew that the things important in their lives would get named."

YES! This makes me think that to hear named/voiced by others or by oneself in the company of others those things of importance is a way of recognizing/saying "These are my people, they are my home, come..." What a powerful, fundamental need...to have a part in the telling of the collective Story.

shalom...

Donald said...

I knew you would get this idea, my friend. Naming is so important for you, finding the words, just the right words, for hopes and longings and wonderings and gleeful imaginings.

I take it Friday evening went well for someone who loves words the way you do.