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Remembering We Are God’s “Beloved”: : June 4, 2023

Trinity Sunday:
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20
A baptism on the occasion of the baptism of Lena

Almost every Sunday of the Church year begins the same: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship (or community-making) of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

It’s a poetic, call-and-response sort of greeting that not only quotes from the New Testament (as we heard in the second reading), but reflects how our ancestors in faith experienced God in active and often surprising ways:

    in the life, death, and new life of Jesus;

    in the goodness and love of God’s action in history: in creation; in calling Israel to be a special people; in the reforming and justice-making words and actions of the prophets (as one of our communion prayers nicely summarizes);

    and in the communion of the Holy Spirit who swept over the waters at the beginning of time; who swept over the waters at Jesus’s baptism; and who swept over the early Church at Pentecost; and gave them a way of being together — teaching, worship, and ritual action — that confirms for us that God is with us when we gather and create that space for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And that Spirit that identified descended on Jesus at his baptism, when a voice acclaimed him as God’s Beloved, is at work, we trust, in Lena’s life, and in her baptism, claiming her as God’s Child, God’s Beloved.

On a festival like today, Trinity Sunday, we reflect (perhaps with some perplexity) that God has been revealed to us as a dynamic force of call-and-response, or source-and-return, or giving-and-receiving of love. And in baptism we celebrate that that power of love adopts us and brings us into that intimacy between Jesus and the One he called Abba.

We were created for relationship with God. But being human, we sometimes (maybe oftentimes) forget that closeness of relationship we were built for. We set up idols, distractions, and habits that stand in for the attention and devotion that should rightly go to God. So we’ll begin with three ‘no’s and three ‘yes’s. No to the bad; yes to Jesus. Baptism re-centres us. It washes away the mud and dirt that clings and accumulates, and weighs us down. And there is something in which I find great comfort. A little later on when we come to the baptismal covenant, all of the commitments of “I will” are followed by “with God’s help.” We’re not talking about just trying harder, but about opening ourselves up to that Spirit of Love that’s closer to us than we usually realize. We’ve seen that Spirit at work in Lena — in her deep involvement and enthusiasm for our church life. And we’ve also seen that Spirit at work in Lena’s family, who go right back to the early days of this congregation. So let’s do this, and may Lena be a reminder to all of us of our primary identities as beloved children of God.

© 2023 The Rev’d Matthew Kieswetter