This Friday, January 6, is the Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we remember and celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. It is an important feast in the liturgical year, and so we will transfer our celebration of Epiphany from Friday to Sunday, January 8.
Unfortunately, that means that we will give short shrift to another traditional feast of the liturgical year, the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ – at least on Sunday. However, we will be using the Baptism of Christ gospel lesson as the basis for our Insight worship service at 6:15 pm on Tuesday, January 10 – please consider joining us! And you might also use the story of Jesus’ baptism as a catalyst for your own personal meditation time. To that end, I offer you my version of a guided meditation that our former Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori led for a group of priests of our diocese several years ago.
Sit in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, and paying attention to your breath for a few moments. Slowly begin to imagine that you are at a river. It doesn’t have to be the Jordan river, or historically accurate in any way. What does YOUR river look like? Is is clear and calm? Shallow or deep? Wide or narrow? Is it a sunny day, or perhaps might it be a bit overcast? What does being near the river smell like? Now you become aware that there are folks wading into the river, getting baptized, and now you are being beckoned to join them. How does that feel – are you eager, or anxious, or maybe a little of both? You find yourself wading in – notice how different the water temperature feels compared to the air around you. And soon, almost before you are ready, strong but loving arms dunk you back under the water and hold you there – just for a moment, but long enough for you to feel a bit afraid. But then you are up, out of the water, taking a huge breath of new life – feel what that’s like in your lungs. And just then you hear a voice speaking clearly to you, naming you by name, and saying “YOU are my beloved child (my daughter, my son)! With you I am well-pleased!” Let yourself bask in the glow of that love, of being God’s beloved, for at least a few minutes – relaxing into the knowledge like taking a well-earned nap on a warm sunny day. And when you are ready, slowly come back to the room you are sitting in, gently opening your eyes.
May you go into 2017 with the full and deep knowledge that you are indeed God’s beloved, and New Year’s blessings to you all!