January 10th, 2016 Scriptures for the Baptism of Jesus
Scriptures: Isaiah 4:1-7; Romans 6:1–11; Luke 3:15-22
I think everyone has had the experience at one time or another of a smell, a story, a picture evoking the memory of a song. It might be a song from childhood or perhaps a slow dance song from your High School prom or maybe even that song, you know, ‘our song’. This is what happens to me often as I read God’s Word, I connect unintentionally with songs from my past. As Isaiah speaks God’s word to His people, “But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob. He who formed you O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine,’” my mind just started singing Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.’
If you check the words to the song, you will find that Stevie is not singing to God or even on God’s behalf. The lyrics to the song portray a wayward lover who, after trying other loves, dedicates himself back to the one he left. Singing, ‘I’ve done a lot of foolish things that I really didn’t mean,’ and ‘Seen al lot of things in this old world when I touched them they did nothing, girl,’ and ‘you set my soul on fire, that’s why I know you are my only desire,’ all followed by the refrain, ‘here I am, signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours.’ However if you follow me for a moment and change the focus of the song lyrics from Stevie being a letter ‘signed, sealed and delivered to a former lover, to the description of God’s word of us being signed by Him in baptism (not unlike Andy from Toy Story his name on the boot of Woody – but then that’s a movie not a song – a topic for another blog no doubt) and at the last days (Revelation 2:17, 3:12), sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30-13) and delivered from death (Romans6:4), all our wrongdoing and the devil, then the song can be one from us to God.
How many times have we as God’s forgiven children seen, touched and desired things in this world more than our gracious heavenly Father? How many times have we found ourselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason, pursuing the wrong ‘love’? In those dark moments (not unlike the ones that the nation of Israel was going to experience in Babylonian exile – the context just before our words from God through Isaiah for this Sunday) what a blessing it is to know that God’s grace reaches all the way to where we find ourselves. Because we have walked through the waters of baptism, God was with us so that when we walk through the fires of judgement we will have NO FEAR. (Isaiah 43:1-2). We can joyfully sing the words of the Stevie Wonder song from this new perspective as we recognize our sinfulness and remember God’s mercy – ‘Here I am Father, signed, sealed and delivered by You – I’m Yours.’
As you live your life this week, lean into your baptismal grace and as Paul says, ‘walk in newness of life’ unafraid!