And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
~ Luke 3:22
Jesus hasn’t done anything yet—at least not according to Luke. He has been the object of wonder and joy. He has been welcomed and sung over and presented as a reason for indescribable gratitude.
But as of yet he has done nothing…this beloved one.
What do you make of this?
We know the territory, of course. Whether children or grandchildren, partners or even pets. We know belovedness—that positive regard, that hold on the heart, that gravitational pull of longing and belonging that draws us to shape our lives around someone just because they are, something just because it is. It is both nature and nurture, to be sure. But we know it to be true.
How does a weary world rejoice? We trust our belovedness.
Do you recognize your own belovedness? Do you believe it? Do you trust it?
How does a weary world rejoice?
I would guess
soul by soul
and day by day.
But if you ask me,
I bet most of it counts.
~Sarah A. Speed @writingthegood, December 4, 2021
Enter into worship this Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
Readings: Isaiah 43:1-7 † Psalm 29 † Luke 3:21-22
About the art: Beloved. Lauren Wright Pittman. Digital painting and collage. Inspired by Luke 3:21-22. Used with permission.
From the artist:
Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism is brief and vague. He was baptized among “all the people” (Luke 3:21) by an unnamed baptizer, and until he prays, the scene is rather unremarkable. During his prayer, however, an iconic scene unfolds with the heavens opening, the Holy Spirit descending
in the form of a dove, and a voice booming from heaven.
As I considered how I might visually respond to this text, it was difficult to imagine this event with a beginner’s mind. I’ve seen lots of imagery of Jesus in the water with clouds breaking open and a dove descending, or Jesus bursting out of water into a beam of light. These images are powerful, but I wasn’t sure if creating a similar image would be helpful, or if I’d be offering insight into the text that hadn’t already been visually explored.
I began to meditate on what was unspoken and implied in Luke’s account, and one moment that stuck out in my imagination was the moment Jesus was underwater. How did Jesus feel when he held his breath and descended into the river?
This image offers a snapshot of Jesus right before he steps into his calling, on the threshold of spectacular affirmation. He is completely suspended, embraced, and upheld by the waters of baptism. The water’s surface is choppy. The future is unknown and precarious. His path is a lonely and formidable one, eventually leading to his suffering and death.
Despite what is to come, Jesus reaches toward the surface. Two fish are drawn to the light of his halo, foreshadowing his companionship with fishers and his miraculous feeding of the five thousand. All of creation is leaning into his call.
This is what trusting your belovedness feels like—muscles and bones relieved of gravity’s burden, serenity, weightlessness, oneness with creation, and the warmth of God’s love permeating every cell of your body and every corner of your soul
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