We know so little of Jesus’ early years. What we do know comes to us in a series of brief encounters or moments of revelation in which something significant happens.
This morning as we recall his baptism, he is of course an adult and it does mark the beginning of his public ministry, when he steps out of life as a carpenter onto the mainstage.
He stepped onto a stage where ‘the people were filled with expectation’.
Something was happening.
John had stirred people up. They ask, is this John the Messiah?
John ‘answered all of them’ by saying he is not, that another is coming.
This other man is baptised along with others, and the Gospel tells us he is praying and at that moment his true identity is revealed, a voice comes from heaven and says
‘you are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
It is a moment of revelation.
From then on we know a bit more, the Gospels describe what happens next, prior to then we know so little. What we have are a series of events or moments of revelation.
One of those events we celebrated on the 25th December last year, when he was born.
The week after we recalled another as he was left behind by his parents at the Temple in Jerusalem.
And looking ahead at the beginning of February we will celebrate his presentation in the temple as a young child.
But there are so many gaps, years in which we know nothing. Instead we have these moments of revelation.
Moments which in some way remind us that faith is built on our own moments of revelation.
We may not have heard a voice of heaven but we do all know moments in which we are lifted beyond ourselves and dare to dream that what we hope for might actually be true, those little glimpses and hints of more.
For each of us they will be different.
In my experience they’re usually surprising and not what we expect.
For example, I remember taking what had been the umpteenth funeral in a very long week.
Those present seemed as is so often the case bewildered and I was left thinking how do the words I am saying speak to them.
However at the blessing at the end there was a real sense of that blessing is exactly what Christ would be doing for them.
It encouraged me and has stayed with me.
I hadn’t expected a moment of revelation in a crematoria but that’s what I think it was.
Likewise I can picture holding my new born son in my arms for the first time, tears flowing, exhausted maybe but also filled with wonder at this little life before me.
It was a moment of revelation.
I’m sure you have your own and precious they are for these moments are that which sustain us as we journey on particularly through those times when things seem rather dull, mundane and lifeless,
when we seem to be drowning in the work to be done,
or through the fears we carry
or through the sadness that lingers
and yet like Jesus
pulled out of the water by John
These moments of life giving wonder and joy
Save us from drowning and in our
own little way we hear those words ‘with you I am well pleased.’
Jesus’ early years then are marked as much what we don’t know as what we do.
The same I suppose is true of the life of faith,
there is much that we do not know,
much which confuses and shakes us
but what we do know
is something that goes beyond words,
and it’s through those moments of revelation that we choose to build our life.
To say we believe.
This morning, as we remember Christ’s baptism,
so we recall our own,
a moment in time when the water of new life marked us forever
and we recall too those moments of revelation which sustain us now, when we see things differently,
when we know.
So may we be a ‘people filled with expectation’ ready to savour those moments of revelation.
Ready to be surprised,
By the God who surprises us again and again
The crib still here beneath our altar reminds us of that
and as we recall our baptism in a few moments
May we remember that the voice described in our Gospel continues to reverberate down the ages even to us here at St. Mary’s this morning.
For God says to his people You are beloved
with you I am well pleased.