Midrash-ing with Mark
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Hands down, Jesus baptism is one of the moments in scripture that causes my soul to surge and swirl. There is so much meaning, possibility, and promise in the words above.
First, the fact is that John selects the Jordan as the space and place for baptism not just because it was a beautiful, natural setting. Actually, I once read a scholar call the Jordan River a, "meandering ditch." Sounds delightful, right? The Jordan was the place where Joshua (who took over leadership from Moses) led the people into the Promised Land. The Jordan is that sacred space where your soul can breathe because you are arriving at the place where you longed to go. The Jordan is the place where you are on the edge of everything. The Jordan is that place where you remember who and whose you are. The Jordan is that holy ground where you reclaim the meaning, possibility and promise of your life.
Where is that? Describe and define it...paint a picture with words...or get out a photo you took...or write a poem...or paint it. Jordan is the place on the edge of liberation ~ when/where has that been a place you have visited or resided for awhile?
Second, as Jesus is baptized the heavens are torn apart. God is doing something different and new. God is on the loose in our lives. Torn apart means it won't be put back together easily. Torn apart means if when what was broken open is super glued back together, it may not be the same or look the same. Torn apart isn't always bad. There are systems (racism and sexism and discrimination against LGBTQ) that need to be torn apart so that new ways of being can happen. (However, there are always people benefiting from the way things are and don't want the system torn apart and will oppose you at every turn). What needs to be torn apart right now in your life? Personally? In a relationship? Communally?
A midrash from me ~ in my community ~ affordable housing has been a problem for so many years that it is now a crisis. Our local government has said it is a priority for decades...but never puts money toward affordable house. It was a commitment in word only, not in deed or dollars. Such a system and way of being needs to be torn apart because people who work hard need a place to live.
Third, God naming and claiming Jesus as a beloved makes the tiny hairs on my arm stand on end. Not only because those words were spoken then and there...but they are still spoken here and now. Those words are heard at every baptism ~ at YOUR baptism. You are a beloved son/daughter of God. Whoever...wherever you are. You are crafted and created in God's image.
How do you sense that truth? How do you live this truth? How might YOU in 2020 embody and embrace belovedness in a way that changes everything? There is a question to midrash and find meaning in your life in these early days of 2020.
May the reflections and responses of your mind/heart/soul to the words of scripture provide more than a trace of God's grace.