You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. (Mark 1:11)
The heavens opened. The Holy Spirit descended. The Father spoke. The revelation of the Trinity.
God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three distinct divine P_______s. One perfectly simple divine n________. (Persons, nature)
The great mystery of the three in one, one in three: the communion beyond our comprehension. The goal of all our striving, namely to share in such an unimaginably blissful friendship between Father and Son, so full of love for each other that what is distinct is united more profoundly than we are united with our own selves.
But such abstractions as these can leave a person cold, at least sometimes.
Let’s imagine ourselves at the Jordan River. Warmer day than today. Definitely too cold to wade into any rivers near here today. Let’s imagine ourselves at the Jordan, on a warmer day.
Now, why would a person find him- or herself at the River Jordan, to be baptized? Well, we know what brought people out to the wilderness, to receive John’s baptism. They sought God. They sought a new beginning to life.
They had troubled consciences. Somewhere in them, they longed for the peace that you have when you don’t have a troubled conscience. When, inside yourself, there is like a cylinder of truth, and every decision rings like a pitch-perfect tuning fork in the interior cylinder of my soul.
Chting–hummmm. Yes, I am where God has willed me from all eternity to be.
Chting. Hummmmmm. What He would have me do, that’s what I am doing.
Chting–hummmm. If I got really sick, God forbid, or someone I love got very sick–I would grieve, of course, but I would not panic. I would trust God; I would have peace. Because I live in His will.
Chting–hummmmm: He is with me, giving me strength, guiding me at every step. Chting–hummm: If today be my last day on earth, so be it. I am ready to face what comes next.
On the other hand, the troubled conscience: The tuning fork of truth sounds, Chting! And the cylinder inside me does not resound like a barrell full of pure, beautiful air. It makes other sounds instead. Chting—umphth. Chting—rnnhnn. Or: chting–flop.
Because I have cut corners with the real Me, that God made me to be. Lied to look good or fit in. Went along when I should have stood my ground. Or stubbornly pouted when I should have compromised cheerfully. Snapped with stinging meanness when I should have waited until tomorrow, at least, until I said anything.
Or: Put my eggs in an unworthy basket. Traded my godly hope for comfort and status. Or: kept sitting in front of some display screen, when I should have gotten up, taken a walk, and thanked God for giving us the sky.
Chting–phtrzz. I need a fresh start. I need cleaning out on the inside. I need interior atunement.
So they came out to the Jordan, to the man who lived on locusts and wild honey, who sang to the stars in the night sky about the golden-eyed King to come. They came to the prophet who ushered in a new day on his big shoulders, draped in camel hair.
Let’s start this thing over. This religion thing. This morality thing. This life thing. Let’s start fresh. Then, maybe, with God’s help, we will do it right.
A warm day. I think we can imagine a sunny day. Light breeze. Jordan flowing. Not much bigger a river than the Pigg flowing around the soccer fields at the Waid Recreation area in Rocky Mount, or the Smith flowing beside Fieldale Trail in Martinsville. They came to the river for a new start and a cleansing of conscience.
Then they saw the fruition and fulfillment of a harmonized interior cylinder. Mankind–as mankind was made to be. The Christ of God.
The tuning fork struck, so to speak, and everything resounded with harmony. The whole cylinder of the world. The skies opened, and the voice spoke.
Spoke what we all long to hear. What our consciences eagerly yearn for, crying out from underneath the untruths and lame compromises and self-centered smallness that have accumulated inside us. Our low horizons bend our necks to the earth and fill our minds with noise. But still, inside, the real Me, my conscience: the inner ears open up, longing with everything to hear these simple words–all I need to hear; the key to my peace, to any real rest, to a sabbath worth keeping, a day of joy that could last forever.
“My child. I am well pleased.”
The heavens resound: “I look upon you, child, and I rejoice. You are all I made you to be.”
The doctrine of the Trinity may seem abstract. But the reality is the opposite of abstract. The divine Trinity has unfolded everything for no other reason than this: to give us the heavenly words at Christ’s Baptism as words that belong to us, as words addressed to us.
The Blessed Trinity invites us into the humanity of Christ. We can live in Him, and the Father will smile on us.