Pastor Joan sits in her office at Last Lutheran and puts the finishing touch on her sermon . Here is an excerpt from that sermon.
“ On election night we wait for the announcement of who has one, in Soap Operas we wait for the announcement of who is the person separated from birth, and in Murder Mysteries we wait for the announcement of who the killer is. Announcements play an important part of life.
There are two important announcements in today’s gospel.
First John the Baptist announces that he is not the Messiah but the Messiah is coming.
That’s a very important announcement since people were beginning to think that John was the Messiah. John, however, knows what his task is. He’s a pointer. He gets things ready. But he is not the one.
Then there is the second announcement. This one comes from God. God announces after Jesus Baptism “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”
The Father announces that the Son, the Word become flesh is his.
It is not some stranger that moves now toward the cross and the salvation of mankind it is the One that was there at Creation. What a fantastic announcement. What really good news.
There is one other announcement I want you to think of this morning.
When you were Baptized the Pastor made the sign of the cross on your head and announced “ Your name, Child of God, you have been sealed by the cross of Christ.
It was announced that you by adoption through the cross are also a child of God. You are not an orphan in the universe wondering who the Father is. You are a child of God. You belong.
The announcement has been made. What a fantastic announcement. What really good news.
In liturgical churches today is celebrated as the Baptism of Jesus. It is the Sunday after the Epiphany. In Western Churches Epiphany itself is centered in the coming of the Wise Men as opposed to Eastern tradition where Epiphany celebrates the Baptism of Jesus.
The gospel for the day is Luke 3:15-17,21-22.
As the church began to develop a theological framework to pull together all of the traditions, stories , etc.there were many in those formative years that believed that Jesus did not know He was God’s Son until God told Him at his Baptism. At that time He also filled Him with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Many theologians from the early years of the Church felt that it was essential to our salvation that Jesus face a period of temptations as a real human being. For God to resist temptation would prove nothing but for God to put aside His power and knowledge and demonstrate what a human could do opened the way to the cross and our salvation.
Other theologians felt that Jesus didn’t even know after his Baptism. This was an ongoing argument that continues until this day.
I have liked this text not because of that argument but because so much goes on in it.
There is John doing his best not to get in the way of the message he has. He is the Voice of One crying in the wilderness but he is not the Messiah. From time to time he had to make that clear because people would decide that he was the Messiah. It must have been an awful temptation for John to begin to think that maybe he was the Messiah after all. Some of us , given the large crowds, the power of the preaching, might very well have given in to the temptation.
Then there is the Baptism of Jesus and the announcement by God that Jesus is His Beloved Son.
There is the good news. In case I missed the announcement at Christmas. God is now with us. God has entered our world. God is acting to save us.
You don’t get much better news than that.