When the Heavens Open… LISTEN UP!

I want more mountains in my life,

Particularly more mountain TOPS!

If you’ve ever felt like this, I have a word for you. Repair to your baptism. Jesus did. And if it was good for Jesus, it’ll be good for you. Every now and then, we all feel dry. ‘Arid in our souls. ‘Parched by problems. ‘Pitched down the mountainside, or buried at the bottom of the heap. Jesus can tell you. These are the very times when the heavens swing open. And a voice just might be heard to say… “THIS is (that is… you are) my beloved child. You are the pleasure of my heart, the apple of my Godly eye. The object, and the subject, of my own desire!”

Today, we remember the baptism of Jesus. Jesus himself, feeling the need to be bathed in the love of God. Jesus himself, feeling the need to point in the right direction. O, we know he was tempted as we are. The Bible makes that very clear. BUT, he was without sin. It’s not that Jesus needed to be turned ‘round right. (We call that repentance… and that’s something all of us need.) But Jesus understood the need to be pointed, facing, looking, living, leading the right way.  That would be… up. Up. UP! That’s our need too. And our own baptism, like Jesus’ baptism promises. When we look up, heaven will open up. And suddenly, we who’ve been down will be up. ‘Lifted up. And set on the mountaintop. And the angels will come and minister to us, just as to our Lord Jesus Christ! There may not have been any higher moment for Jesus than his baptism. It was the confirmation of his unique kinship to God. Our baptism and its occasional renewal, offer us no less. So today, we remember our baptism, led by those who re-commit to the baptized life by their union with the church.

I am deeply grateful for the question someone put to me. “What does it take to become a Christian Mountain Climber?! Isn’t it to seek the good in all things? [Boy, that’s hard: to seek good in all things, and all people… Christ lived and died for all!]  I guess I need to find God's spark in all life and blow on it… in hope that there’ll be a happening.” Something sacred. For them. And for me! This is just what brought Jesus to the waters with John the Baptist.

It all begins with looking up. Every day, every hour, in every circumstance. Whatever the mountain you’re climbing, look up. ‘Not to the top of the mountain, but to the heavens every mountain touches. Look where God is! That’s the thing. And expect no silence, but a word from on high. (I know that’s tough, especially when you and your beloved, or your boss, or your kids, or your days aren’t-even-speaking-to-you!) We were right when we asked, a few minutes ago. Are you willing to quit looking all around for your salvation, but to look up, only up? We said it like this. Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin? It is a good thing, a very good thing, to renew this promise, one and all, from time to time. When Jesus saw the heavens open, and heard the Voice on high, he understood. He could ever rest assured: all the way to the cross.’ “You’re not in this alone! Heaven’s with you. Heaven will help.” No wonder that in Jesus’ name we reassure you in the same way. So we ask. Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression however they present themselves? Here’s the thing. ‘You wanna be a mountain climber, especially in Jesus? Then don’t just look up. Reach up! Yes, reach up. Extend your hand, your life, your soul, to clasp onto the very One who is reaching down to lift you up! One more thing, if you wanna get up your mountain. Step out, step up, decide in favor of leaning on Jesus and him alone. We ask you, we invite you to do that this way. Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?

Dear friends, this is not just a day to remember. It is a day to renew. ‘To renew your baptism, to come to the waters, to come to Christ. Today we get to be bathed yet again in the love of God in Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t it be something, were we to decide to look up, reach up, and step up, assured that God has already come down, reached out and lifted us up in Jesus Christ?! O, what a day; what an hour, what a moment this can be for us all!

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