The ELCE held its second Reading Day yesterday. It was a good day – and thank you to Sara and those from many (11) ELCE congregations who read, listened, questioned, clarified, and wanted to understand what the ELCE is becoming. (And we haven’t yet got to what the name of the church will be. Will we change it?) I approach these days in two minds. There’s the tired mind which thinks ‘If you all do as I think, we can move on!’ and ‘Why are
people so insistent on some things?!’ and there’s the excited mind which thinks ‘’What can I learn today that I haven’t seen before?’ and ‘This whole process will make for a better structure’. And I do like it when someone says something and I suddenly see the topic, item, structure, relationship, whatever in a way I hadn’t seen it before. Sometimes it’s like a flash of
lightning I see something new – something I hadn’t seen or known before – and I find that exciting. (It can even happen when I’m disagreeing with what is being said but there’s something that is new and I have to
pause in my disagreeing.) Probably more often what is new is something that is a continuation or an extension of something to a consequence I hadn’t appreciated or thought about. These little ‘aha!’ moments are good to have. (It is one reason why I enjoyed teaching because invariably a student would teach me something!)
Today much of the Christian Church celebrates the Baptism of Jesus and I wonder whether that was a day when Jesus learnt something new about God and himself. I don’t know! It is hard to imagine Jesus on the inside – well, I find it hard to imagine Jesus’ self identity – and to psychoanalyse Jesus is fraught with all sorts of problems and projections in my opinion. Did the voice from heaven tell Jesus something he didn’t know or he knew? Church teachers have taught various things about what happened in the river Jordan often between that God made Jesus his Son or declared him his Son as Jesus steps onto the world’s stage. Jesus didn’t have an ‘Aha!’ moment in my view – yes, I am of the God is declaring Jesus publicly view – but this occasion and this particular baptism does elicit an ‘Ah?!’ from us. Because what we sense in the water is a very strange combination – the Son of God looking like a
repenting sinner. And that might indeed prove to be very comforting to human children of God who sin by wanting to be their own god! The human sinner wants to be a god and here in the water is the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh. What is going on? We have to wait for the cross and empty tomb to finally find it out completely but all along Jesus’ public ministry there will be people going ‘Aha! Amazing! God wants to be close to me, a sinner, to help me, forgive me, and lead me to live a new life!’. Who would have thought that in the person of an apparently ordinary sinner I might have the biggest ‘Aha!’ moment of my life? When that ‘sinner’ is Jesus, everything is different, new!