The Baptism of Jesus

I’m writing this while still putting together my ‘guilty conscience’ – The British Lutheran (only 8 months late). It’s a ‘monster’ edition (the rest of 2012 so to speak). I’d call it the big issue except that name is taken. At 92 pages it is more work than I had envisaged. This has genuinely surprised me. My plans and deadlines simply got blown apart – and the time wasn’t dragging at all – I just had to find a lot more than I had originally planned to use on it. We’ve come along way from the first printing press where I can manipulate word, text, image, colour with relative ease. Ah, the wonders of computers! So why is that I sit there sometimes wondering whether the computer will as I near the 92nd page gobble up my work and then give an electronic burp or the blue screen of death and react impassively to my pleadings (no matter how much I save or back up)? I rely on the technology but there’s also a part of me that says, ‘Be careful – don’t trust – don’t turn your back on it!’. (Does it know what I’m typing?!)

The reason of course is simple. Technology breaks down. This has always been the case. The fire in the oven goes out. The ladder breaks. The chisel gets blunt. We’re aware of this and so we maintain and repair imple-ments, engines, and the like so they are in good working order. Technology can also have side effects that are a known consequence – generally a negative happening which is tolerated because of the benefits overall of technology (so for example the hair loss that comes from chemotherapy is a side effect most people accept as worth ‘paying’).

However there are also what is sometimes called ‘revenge effects’ of technology which are not side effects but the unintended consequences of technology when it seems to be ‘biting back’. The com-puter was supposed to revolutionise the office – turn it paperless. Anyone been in that office yet? I resisted a mobile phone for a long time – largely because I didn’t really need one as a boarding school chaplain living on site – and as a pastor I operate with blurry lines of time and work and home anyway – but the onslaught of smart phones and associated technology has resulted, I think, in real problems of overwork and the questioning of what is ‘work’ and ‘home’. I’ve heard that as medical procedures become simpler with less side effects a further consequence (a revenge effect) is that our tolerance of pain and our understanding of health has also changed and apparently we now have more ‘chronic’ problems than ever before! (I can see ‘good’ and ‘bad’ here.)

So I wonder whether the computer and the magazine and me – an interesting trinity – are good for each other and how we affect each other. How the magazine is shaped by the computer’s possibilities intrigues me … while I keep hoping it all doesn’t end in crashes and tears!

Today we focus on water. The baptism of Jesus is an unique event among many baptisms (both of John’s and in the world). Jesus’ baptism makes Jesus look like a sinner while at he is described as ‘Blessed, Son, pleased with’ by the voice from above. So our ears tell us one thing and our eyes an-other. Because we know how this turns out at the cross – again eyes and ears give us mixed mes-sages – we trust Jesus who became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God – we might live with God. And that brings us to what Jesus tells us to do with words, water, bread and wine – God’s technology. Yes, there’s a danger of a ‘revenge effect’ of smug complacency in using such technology but in themselves – with God’s Word, they are powerful and most trustworthy contact points with God. Now he is a Trinity who is definitely good for me!  — GS