Ready or not, the New Year has come. Welcome to 2017! As in any new growing season or new sport season, there is an element of hope and excitement for what is coming. We are still in that stage of anything could happen. Before long reality may set in, but for now we look ahead at the blank page wondering what it will bring.
Our Bible reading for Sunday is about a Beginning—Jesus’ baptism. John baptizes Jesus in the Jordon River. The heavens open; the Spirit of God comes down like a dove; and a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 13-17
With this blessing from God, Jesus moves into his ministry–Jesus loves extravagantly, proclaims God’s kingdom, teaches, and serves.
On Sunday we will celebrate and remember our own baptisms too. In baptism we are splashed with God’s promise to never let us go. We are welcomed into the community of believers. And we are sent out to serve using the unique gifts and passions God gives us.
Martin Luther thought of baptism as a new beginning for every single day. Washed in God’s forgiveness, we start fresh over and over again. God’s forgiveness and the opportunity for fresh starts does not require waiting for a new year. Luther suggested we remember our baptism every time we wash our face. Over and over we can start anew.
What a gift! My resolutions for the New Year often do not make it through the first week. But that isn’t the end. Each time we remember our baptism and God’s promise of love and forgiveness, we begin again.
One of my favorite Luther quotes is “Sin boldly.” We can courageously love, serve, and act, knowing we will make a countless mistakes along the way. But God’s grace and forgiveness are wide enough to welcome us back over and over and over.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? How do you plan to act boldly at this time of Beginning? How will your Baptism inspire you to serve using the gifts God has given you? Share your ideas in this post and with a friend or family member.
Then listen to the wisdom from this child as you move forward into new beginnings.
For those entering the year with fear or sorrow. Know that Jesus walks with you and works for you, bringing the promise of hope and life even in the midst of suffering and grief. Hold on to God’s promise in baptism that God will never, ever left you go!