This year - 2011 - I am focussing each week on a word. A word from the text. This is the second Sunday I will be preaching, so we are just at the beginning, but already I find I really like it. One word for the week.
Last week, the word was STAR and we pondered about being star seekers and looking beyond to the signs that God gives us. Signs that are there that only we may see. It was really a sermon about that journey that we are all on.
This Sunday the word is BELOVED and it is found in the text when Jesus was baptized and God's voice declared him the beloved. And there is so much there about our need to hear that voice of love that is saying that you are MY beloved. I am enjoying this process of pondering this. It ultimately comes into part of our understanding of our own identity - that we are God's beloved.
This week has been interesting in Columbus as Ted Williams - a homeless man with the oglden voice - has received national attention and his identity and his life has changed in a heartbeat. Suddenly this man who was living on the streets in Columbus is now going to be employed by MSNBC and moving east - presumably into a house and a more conventional life. I wonder how that will all play out. A radical shift in his identity.
The baptism and this "Beloved" identity that we have as Christians seems to take a lifetime to integrate. Our identities seem to be based on all kinds of things - like family stuff and careers and gifts and body image. wSo, we have this Christian ritual (sacrament, ordinance) which is reminding us of the truth that under all of that there is a God who loves us completely. We are wrapped in that love throughout our lives. How to hear that? understand that? feel that? allow that to strengthen and begin to define us?
Tomorrow we will have the memorial service for Lisa Baluk - a 32 year old beautiful young woman who did know that she was the beloved. She did find a sense of identity, purpose and strength in that knowledge. That sustained her in these difficult 40 months since the initial cancer diagnosis. How did she live in that so completely - when so many other people are unable to?
I wish I knew that answers to this. I only pray that I might find peace in my own realization of how loved I am by God. And I pray that in some way I may be able to communicate it to others.