Pastor's Message - 2018 January Newsletter

Intern Hayden Kvamme

Dear Prairie Faith Friends,

With so many of our advent texts this year centering around John the Baptist, I spent some extra time thinking about his relationship to Jesus and his ministry—perhaps you did as well. Now this January we celebrate the part of their shared story that we (at least explicitly) left out: the baptism of Jesus by John.

As we enter 2018, we’ll surely have all sorts of New Years’ Resolutions. I truly pray that you keep as many of them as you can for as long as you can, especially if you gave them some real thought, and extra especially if they are going toward the Health Ministry’s New Year’s Wellness Program! I know I would like to take better care of myself by exercising more and eating healthy, and, whatever your resolutions are, taking care of ourselves is good. We might even say that it’s a vocation: God gives us our bodies daily as gifts and frees us with the gospel to take care of them, not just for ourselves, but also so that we can take better care of others. We’ll talk more about this on April 15, at the Health Ministry-Sponsored talk, “And Became Truly Human,” I’ll be offering at Zion following our joint service. I hope you can make it. But all of that being said, I’m already anticipating the self-loathing that will come when I’m not doing as well as I’d hoped—when my resolutions begin breaking down, and when it’s clear that I’m just not cut out for the perfection they expect.

This awareness that we fall short seemed also to be on the minds of all the folks going out into the wilderness to repent, confess their sins, and be baptized by John. As one professor of mine summarizes this episode in Mark’s gospel, they were fleeing from the wrath to come in expectation of the coming Messiah. But now Jesus humbles himself to be baptized by John, and the focus of this episode shifts entirely. Jesus is not fleeing the wrath to come by being baptized. He doesn’t need to! But, as this same professor of mine brilliantly points out, Jesus is doing something rather important: by being baptized by John, he may not be fleeing from the wrath to come, but he is identifying with those who are; that is, he’s identifying with sinners; he’s identifying with all of us who couldn’t keep our resolutions, and with all of us who could but have now become prideful about it. In short, by being baptized by John, Jesus is identifying with you, so that you might identify with him. Jesus has joined himself to you forever for your salvation: your salvation from the wrath to come, and your salvation from the wrath inside of you, telling you that you aren’t good enough. The sneaky thing is, that voice is right, but it only tells half the story. You are not good enough—but Jesus loves you anyway.


Peace and Joy in Christ,

Intern Hayden

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